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Two Kashmiris booked and detained under the draconian Public Safety Act

On January 29th, two Kashmiri civilians were booked under stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and incarcerated in Central Jail Kot-Bhalwal jail Jammu for so-called ‘anti-India’ activities.

The two civilians, named Fayaz Ahmed and Safeer Ahmed, have been sent to a prison miles away from their home. Speaking to us on the condition of anonymity, one of their family members stated that their family cannot even afford visits to such a distant prison. The detained civilians were also breadwinners for their families, and their detention is a source of great economic distress for their families.

The use of PSA has been regularly deployed to illegally incarcerate Kashmiris. Between May and July, 2023, eight civilians of Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district were booked under the lawless Public Safety Act (PSA) for their “anti-national” activities, India’s euphemism for participation in the Kashmiri right to self-determination movement. The PSA allows detention without trial for up to two years and according to Amnesty International, “People detained under the PSA also run a high risk of being tortured, as many are denied access to family or lawyers for long periods of time. Torture is widely used in police stations and interrogation centres in Jammu and Kashmir to extract confessions or information, to humiliate or punish detainees, leading to dozens of reported deaths in custody.” 

This is not surprising as the PSA allows India to jail any Kashmiri for up to two years without being required to provide the grounds of his arrest. The PSA also denies the Kashmiri detained under PSA the right to a trial. A report by J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons’ (APDP) said 662 persons were booked under the PSA in 2019 alone. In 2015, when the government revealed that 16,329 persons had been detained under the PSA since 1988. Among these detainees, 95% of the detainees were from Kashmir. The percentage reflects how India has weaponized PSA against Kashmiris for demanding their fundamental rights. In 2008, 366 Kashmiris were booked under it. In year 2009 and 2010, 711 Kashmiris were booked under it for protesting against a gang-rape of two Kashmiri women by Indian military personnel. From 2011 to 2015 more than 734 Kashmiris were detained under the PSA. At least 921 Kashmiris were jailed under the PSA after 2016, when India killed a popular Kashmiri pro-freedom commander. In 2017, 410 Kashmiris were jailed under the PSA, while the detention went up to 510 in 2018.

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