Frivolous dossier, courts must step in

Frivolous dossier, courts must step in

The invoking of the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) against a number of leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, signals the Centre’s intention to keep complete control over the state-turned-union territory and to disallow normal politics there. Another former chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, had already been held under the PSA and continues to be in detention. Even after six months of incarceration, the charges against the detained leaders do not bear scrutiny. They have not been tested in courts. The PSA dossier is even weirder: it says Omar had adopted a radical methodology and has the capacity to influence people. It is ridiculous, in a democracy, to detain a politician and dump him in jail because he has the ability to sway the masses. The dossier says Mehbooba has made provocative statements and supported militants. It also says that she makes dangerous and insidious machinations and has a usurping nature. It calls her a “daddy’s girl’’ and compares her to a medieval queen who intrigued and poisoned her opponents.

It is difficult to imagine how such charges could be made in a legal document. There is no explanation of how the leaders endangered public order and the security of the State. The government and the BJP had done business with both leaders after they had committed these “crimes’’. The BJP was in a coalition government with Mehbooba’s PDP, whose creation, the dossier says, is “dubious.’’ It even says the green colour of the party flag reflects radical origin. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the detained leaders had made “unacceptable’’ statements. In a democracy, it is not for the government to decide what is acceptable and to send to jail those who are unacceptable. It is unlikely, unfortunately, that the detained leaders will get relief even from the courts, though the charges against them are absurd. The J&K High Court recently said that it could not scrutinise the merits of the administration’s decision to detain a person. 

The detentions and other actions show that Kashmir has been turned into a police state, with no semblance of democracy. Crackdowns and raids continue, and there is no significant improvement in communication facilities. The Supreme Court ruling against continued restrictions has not improved the situation on the ground. Some leaders have been released from detention after they signed undertakings to refrain from political activity. The intention is to showcase some persons who will not oppose the Centre as leaders of Kashmir and representatives of the people. All this while the government claims that Kashmir is normal. If it is normal, why all the repression, restrictions and detentions? 

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