SRINAGAR: India has broadened the confinement of four political pioneers in Kashmir who had been held by military police since August to control disagreements after the central government stripped the area of its self-rule, two senior authorities said on Feb 7, Friday.
The most recent detainment request was given under the draconian Public Safety Act, which permits confinement without any reason for to two years to the authorities in Srinagar, the late spring capital of Jammu And Kashmir State. The four included two former chief ministers of India’s only Muslim majority state, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and two provincial gathering pioneers, Ali Mohmmad Sagar and Sartaj Madni, the authorities said. They were initially held under a law that permitted a limit of a half year, and their detainment was going to lapse.
“The law does not allow preventive detention beyond six months. So they had to be either released or booked under PSA,” said one government official on condition of anonymity. “Several other regional leaders who have also completed six months under preventive detention are likely to be booked under PSA,” the second official said.
The officials requested anonymity due to the sensitivity over security matters. There was no response from the Home Ministry and its spokesman was unavailable for comment. The home ministry in a reply before the parliament on Feb 6, Thursday said 389 people in Kashmir were already booked under PSA since August last year. Some of those detained have been put under house arrest, while others have been taken elsewhere.
Rights group Amnesty International has described the PSA as a “lawless law”.
Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti confirmed her mother’s detention under the law on Twitter.
“Slapping the draconian PSA… is expected from an autocratic regime that books nine-year-olds for ‘seditious remarks’. Question is how much longer will we act as bystanders as they desecrate what this nation stands for?” said Iltija in a tweet.
The removal of autonomy and subsequent crackdown in Kashmir drew international criticism, and diplomats from several countries say they have raised human rights concerns with India’s foreign ministry. Last month, India’s Supreme Court rebuked the federal government for shutting down Internet and telecommunications in the state.
A ban on public meetings remains in place, but unrest seen in the weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Kashmir of its autonomy has died down, and an uneasy calm prevails amid a heavy security presence. Modi’s government has argued that the detention of politicians and internet blackout were needed to maintain order in a region where security forces have been fighting a long-running separatist insurgency encouraged by neighbouring Pakistan. Islamabad denies giving material support to the insurgency.
Before rejecting of Kashmir’s self-governance, India’s government had kept around 5,000 individuals including businesspeople, common society individuals, lawyers and activists to forestall fights breaking out. Kashmir lay at the root of two of the three wars fought by India and Pakistan since autonomy in 1947, and the debate between the now atomic equipped neighbours over the Himalayan locale stays uncertain. They were initially held under a law that permitted a limit of a half year, and their confinement was going to lapse.
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17 November, 2019