New Delhi: More than 2,300 people in Jammu and Kashmir have been arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) since 2019, while nearly 1,000 people have been detained under the Public Safety Act, according to an Indian Express report. The report adds that nearly 50% of the people booked under UAPA and 30% of those detained under the PSA are still in jail.
The newspaper reported that in the 30 days after J&K’s special status was revoked on August 5, 2019, 290 people were booked under PSA. Several politicians, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were among those detained, apart from youngsters, lawyers and activists.
Official police data, Indian Express said, shows that 699 people were detained under the PSA in 2019, 160 in 2020 and 95 people until the end of July this year. Nearly 30% or 284 of the people are sstill under detention, it said.
While 2,364 people were arrested under UAPA since 2019, 1,100 continue to remain in custody. The report says 918 people were arrested in 437 cases in 2019, 953 people in 557 cases in 2020 and 493 in 275 cases until the end of July this year.
A legal expert that the Indian Express spoke to said that the marked decrease in detentions under the PSA and increased use of UAPA suggests that the police are using the more stringent anti-terror law because the PSA requires regular extensions of custody. Under UAPA, getting bail is nearly impossible.
In addition, over 5,500 people were taken into preventive custody under Section 107 of the CrPC in 2019. All of them have been released, according to the Indian Express.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir had called for the release of all remaining political detainees who were taken into preventive detention on or after August 4, 2019.
It also urged the repeal of the PSA and other preventive detention legislation, or that they should be amended to “them to bring them in line with the constitutional ethos”.
At the June meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, political leaders from Kashmir also sought the release of prisoners booked under the PSA and UAPA.
PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari told the Indian Express, “On the one hand, there is an effort to portray a major change in the situation on the ground, while so many people are under detention. On the other hand, the central government links statehood to normalcy in Parliament. Only one of these situations can be true.”
Other political parties also called for the release of the prisoners, saying it is a “grim reminder” that the situation in the Valley has not changed since Article 370 was diluted, contrary to the claims made by the Union government.
Nearly 2,000 people arrested under UAPA across country in 2019
In a separate development, the Rajya Sabha was told on Wendesday that 1,948 people were arrested and 34 others convicted under the UAPA in 2019.
According to news agency PTI, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai revealed this information in a written reply to DMK member Tiruchi Siva’s question. “As per the report of the NCRB for the year 2019, the total number of people arrested and people convicted under the UAPA in 2019 is 1,948 and 34 respectively,” Rai said.