'PSA effective tool against drug peddlers, smugglers in J-K'

The statistics show that the PSA was invoked against timber smugglers, drug peddlers and saffron adulterers in 56 per cent cases, while it was used against stone-pelters in 44 per cent cases.

The total number of PSA detentions was 332 during the last year.

In 2010, the police arrested and booked 32 drug peddlers and an equal number of timber smugglers under the PSA in Kashmir Valley, a senior police official said.

He said as many as 10 persons were booked under the law, which has been widely criticised by the separatists and human rights groups including Amnesty International, for adulteration of saffron.

Amnesty International, in its recent report on human rights in Kashmir, termed the PSA as a "lawless law".

However, the judiciary has played an important role in checking the misuse of the law, according to the statistics.

Only five of the 72 persons booked under PSA for timber smuggling, drug peddling and adulteration have been released by the courts while the booking of others has been upheld.

Baramulla district in north Kashmir, which is still widely militancy-hit, has seen a spurt in drug peddling as is evident from 18 persons being booked under the PSA.

Awantipora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district is second with 10 cases during the last year. South Kashmir has emerged as the hub for cultivation of banned substances like poppy and charas.

Baramulla district also tops the list in timber smuggling with 19 persons booked under the PSA for the offence during 2010. Budgam in central Kashmir ranks second with eight booking in the corresponding year.

47 ultras and 69 of their sympathisers were booked under the law last year.

However, the authorities have not been able to make a good case against these people as 45 of them were released by courts. Even in the case of stone-pelters, the courts have set free 59 persons out of the 145 arrested under the PSA.

"Yes, we have been using the PSA against militants, overground workers and in some cases, the stone-pelters as well. However, it is inevitable for maintaining peace, law and order," the police officer said.

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