Civil rights restrictions needs to be lifted in J&Ok : The Tribune India

Vappala Balachandran

Ex-Special Envoy of the Cabinet Secretariat

There is a case where all civil rights restrictions in J&K are lifted and all additional police forces are withdrawn from the state based on law and order (L&O) data released by the J&K police. These restrictions and internet restrictions had earned India a bad name as a “human rights abuser”. The elections for the District Development Council (DDC) were also held peacefully between November 28 and December 19, 2020. Undoubtedly, these elections did not lead to a public confirmation of the BJP’s right to exist to operate in the valley.

Such a drastic lockdown is no longer necessary. While I do not want to mention foreign governments or foreign NGOs, I refer to the July 2020 report by the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, co-chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur, who indicted the J&K administration for the detention of 6,605 people, including former ministers and 144 minors.

Even when cross-border terrorism was cited as one of the main reasons for “protecting the common people”, Police Director General Dilbag Singh stated that several militant commanders had been killed and that the situation was better “by all means” in 2020. During there were 584 L&O incidents in 2019, 143 in 2020. Of 255 in 2019, there were also 243 in 2020. 157 militants were killed in 2019, but 222 in 2020 in 2020. However, the number of militant recruits increased from 143 in 2019 to 174 last year.

All of these would indicate better CT management. The only worrying trend according to the data was ceasefire violations by Pakistan, which rose from 605 in 2019 to 930 in 2020. However, this is the concern of our army, which is quite competent at dealing with Pakistan’s transgressions.

A similar claim was made in August 2020 that the stone throwing incidents, which were 532 in 2018, had dropped to 389 in 2019 and 102 in 2020, with better police operations and more arrests under the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA). There were 849 arrests in 2019, down from 583 arrests in 2018, down from 444 in 2020 when more security guards were deployed. 444 people were arrested under the Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) in 2020 to cope with the emergency situation following the repeal of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The Kashmir Valley experienced terrorism from 1988. To quote the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), our most trusted data collector, a total of 10,310 civilians, 3,520 security guards and 12,396 terrorists were killed in terrorist violence between 1988 and 2000. However, the worst time in the history of the J&K uprising was between 2000 and 2005, when a total of 4,843 civilians, 3,841 security guards and 12,843 terrorists were killed.

In terms of the year, the trend was as follows: from 1,385 incidents in 2000, it peaked at 2,084 in 2001 and then declined to 1,642 in 2002, 1,427 in 2003, 1,061 in 2004 and 1,004 in 2005. Of 694 terrorist attacks in 2006, the number fell again to 86 in 2015, rose again to 112 in 2016, 163 in 2017 and 206 in 2018 and stabilized at 135-139 in 2019 and 2020. All of these CT operations were then performed by the J&K police with normal CRPF and military assistance.

Despite these killings, from 1988 to 2019 no Union government deemed it necessary to either cordon off the entire valley, arrest mainstream politicians and business people, or lay accordion wires holding the public back “to control cross-border terrorism”. They also didn’t feel it was necessary to fly thousands of outside police forces (30,000, according to the Lokur report) to maintain law and order. This reasoning was first put forward on August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was repealed by the NDA government.

The official PSA detention figures are contested by local civil society groups, according to which 662 people were detained in 2019. The PSA had a shameful past. This draconian law was enacted in 1978 by the government of Sheikh Abdullah against political opponents. In contrast to the law on preventive detention in the rest of India, PSA refuses to give legal aid to the detainee. In addition, the detention authority is not required to disclose reasons for detention in the “public interest”.

The Union government criticizes Abdullah’s excesses, but has used his PSA to quell disagreements in the valley, which human rights groups unfortunately see as directed against Muslims. However, the same draconian PSA could be diluted under foreign pressure. A leading journalist reported on January 24 of this year how the Kashmiri businessman Mubeen Shah, a cousin of a key figure under the Obama administration, was arrested on August 8, 2019. His family had to go from prison to prison in Srinagar looking for him. That he was being held in Agra was only known after the intervention of the US embassy. He was released in December 2019.

The J&K administration has also improvised the coercion method by stating that a person will be released from custody but will prevent them from leaving their residence by the police. This happened on July 30, 2020 with the 83-year-old congress leader Saifuddin Soz. Soz was caught on camera arguing with a police officer who grabbed his hand to prevent him from leaving his home. However, the J&K administration issued an affidavit to the High Court that he was not in custody. It is the constant complaint of Kashmiri leaders like former Prime Minister Mehbooba Mufti that such illegal detentions are being practiced on them. Such tricks work to create the impression that we are a responsible regional power trying to rise to the high table of the Security Council.

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