The Jammu and Kashmir government has accused 169 persons of being ‘organisers and provocateurs’ playing a ‘leading role in the current unrest in Kashmir’ and it has decided to invoke the Public Safety Act to book all these persons. These 169 are among the estimated 1,000 people who have been identified as key players in the ongoing protests and clashes with security forces. According to an Indian Express report, on August 19, Director General of J&K Police K Rajendra Kumar wrote a letter to Inspector General of J&K Police (Kashmir zone) Javaid Mujtaba Gilani. In it, the police headquarters has sent a district-wise list of people who it thinks are behind the current protests. The letter asks IGP Gilani to book them under PSA.
As per PSA a person can be arrested and imprisoned without trial for up to six months on mere suspicion that he/she may be acting “in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”. The Act was first introduced in J&K in 1978 to prevent timber smuggling but was used against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990. After the emergence of the militant movement, the J&K government regularly invoked this act to counter the separatist movement. The list of people sent by DGP K Rajendra Kumar to IGP Gilani includes: 31 from Central Kashmir district of Budgam; 28 from Pulwama (South Kashmir); 22 from Kupwara (North Kashmir); 33 from Anantnag (South Kashmir); 11 from Baramulla (North Kashmir); six from Ganderbal (Central Kashmir); 14 from Kulgam (South Kashmir); eight from Bandipore (North Kashmir); four from Shopian and 12 from Srinagar.
Sources told the Indian Express that the list wasn’t prepared by respective police stations from the ground but sent directly from J&K Police headquarters. The people on the list are mostly known faces, community leaders, activists of pro-Azadi groups, lawyers and members of social and religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami. “I believe their dossiers must have already been prepared and sent to concerned District Magistrates and if not already done the concerned District SSP be directed to prepare their dossiers and send them to DMs concerned for early action,’’ DGP Kumar’s letter said. “Vigorous follow up action is required to be taken by District SSP.” A senior minister in the Mehbooba Mufti Cabinet said that “the party (PDP) has serious problems with this move because it would further anger people, especially in South Kashmir.”