The rampant and arbitrary arrests of people especially youth in Kashmir since last August are atrocious and undemocratic and violate civil liberties of the people. Such suppressive measures to contain dissent add to the already deepened levels of alienation among larger sections the people.
The Public Safety Act is being misused in Kashmir and in some cases common people are being kept in police stations for days together without any FIRs. Arrests under UAPA have become a norm and the law is being misused. It has affected hundreds of youth against whom cases have been registered. The draconian law has created a widespread helplessness among the youth.
Majority of the habeas corpus petitions filed with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court since the scrapping of Article 370 in August last year have remained pending.
Arrests without any solid legal grounds do not augur well for the state. It has been done before as well in the state, but it has never yielded anything. On the other hand, it just exacerbates the anger and gives rise to further uncertainty. We have always maintained that dissent should always have a place in a democratic society. Curbing the dissent and those holding a contradictory viewpoint is not democratic at all.
Recently Justice D Y Chandrachud, one of the judges of the Supreme Court bench, which heard the bail plea of television anchor Arnab Goswami laid emphasis on protecting personal liberty of individuals. It is appreciable and we are hopeful that it becomes a norm for all cases now.
He appealed to the Supreme Court to ask courts in Jammu and Kashmir to not fall short of exercising constitutional duties in protecting the life and liberty of individuals.
The urgency with which the bail plea of Goswami was heard by different courts is praiseworthy. But this privilege isn’t available to everybody. In Kashmir hundreds of habeas corpus petitions have remained pending since last August.
The Supreme Court bench while granting the bail to Goswami stated that if the State targets individuals, they must realize that the apex court is there to protect them. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will also come to the rescue of hundreds of people, who have been arbitrarily jailed by the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir since last August. The same yardstick needs to be applied in Jammu and Kashmir as well.
He terms it ironic that when the court grants bail to some prisoner in Kashmir, police instead of releasing him keeps him in detention by involving him in some other case. How can a person who is in jail commit any crime for which he needs to be rearrested. If, according to the police, he had committed the alleged crime before his arrest in one case, why don’t they produce all the cases before the court simultaneously?
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