Kashmir Witnesses Biggest Crackdown In Two Decades

SRINAGAR: According to official figures of the state government, a total of 446 people have been arrested across Jammu and Kashmir in a week, Delhi’s Indian Express reported on Saturday.

Even as the state government struggles to contain the protests in the Valley even after 90 days of lock down, the longest in Kashmir’s history, it has launched the biggest crackdown in more than two decades, conducting nocturnal raids across Kashmir.

Since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, police have arrested close to 7000 people in the valley while more than 450 people have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), the highest number-ever in the Valley, the report said.

According to the police sources, in addition to these figures, 1500 others are under detention in different police stations across Kashmir without any charges and their detention doesn’t reflect in the official records.

The official figures show that in the four districts of south Kashmir – Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama – the epicentre of current protests, more than 1821 civilians have been arrested and more than 500 detained under preventive detention. In central Kashmir – Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts – police have arrested close to 1700 persons and put more than 350 people under preventive detention. The number of arrests and preventive detentions in north Kashmir’s three districts – Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipore – is 1130 and 178 respectively.

The highest number of arrests has been made in Srinagar where more than a thousand people have been arrested and 129 put under preventive detention. This is followed by south Kashmir’s Pulwama district where more than 700 civilians have been arrested and close to 150 put under preventive detention.

In Baramulla, the number of arrests and detentions is 671 and 63 respectively. The lowest number of arrests has been made in Kupwara district, the most volatile district in north Kashmir during the past three months. The official records show that more than 250 civilians were arrested and close to 100 detained in the district.

While in opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2010 raked up “unwarranted use” of Public Safety Act by the Omar Abdullah government as a major issue both in and outside the assembly, the party – now in power – has booked more than 450 people under the Public Safety Act in less than three months.

The figures reveal that police have submitted PSA dossiers against 560 people and have received approval for 483 cases. The Public Safety Act allows government to detain a person without trial for a period up to six months.

“Mehbooba Mufti has arrested more than 8000 youngsters including more than 700 under dreaded PSA & wants to sell Kashmir as a peaceful place,” Omar Abdullah tweeted. “It’s ridiculous that kids haven’t seen the inside of school for 3 months & the CM wants tourists to forget the turmoil & come visiting.”

The National Conference has accused Mehbooba Mufti-led government of breaking all the records of “oppression”. “Seven thousands youth have been arrested, PSA has been slapped on more than 500 and 2300 youth have been booked in fake cases. There is no space in the jails in Kashmir,” National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim said. “Mehbooba Mufti has broken the records of oppression that his father had made as Home Minister) of India”.

In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, which was relatively calm this time, police have booked 107 people under the Act, the highest number in any district. This is followed by Pulwama where PSA has been slapped on more than 100 civilians. The lowest number of PSAs have been slapped in Ganderbal district where 18 people have been booked under it.

While the Deputy Commissioners of Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Budgam and Ganderbal have issued PSA warrants in all the cases, the deputy commissioner Pulwama has returned 18 dossiers to police.

Government spokesman and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar justified the arrests saying it has been done “because we found ourselves in an unprecedented situation”.

“There is a difference, lot of difference between 2010 and 2016. Like the local leadership apparently is not in control, the leadership has gone to 10 and 12 year old boys. Those who lead are driven by the street. In 2010, they could assert and bring it back,” he said. “What we did (in 2010) is the role of opposition. I wish National Conference does the same but they have disappeared”.

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