As many as 2,300 individuals have been booked in over 1,200 cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and 954 under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Jammu and Kashmir since 2019, reported Indian Express.
The Centre on August 5, 2019 put Jammu and Kashmir on a lockdown, before abrogating the Article 370 and stripping it of its statehood by dividing it into two Union territories.
At least 290 people including leaders of major political parties and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were detained as a precautionary measure. Of this 250 people were from Kashmir alone, said official police data accessed by Indian Express.
While 699 people were detained under PSA in 2019, 160 in 2020 and 95 in 2021 (till July-end), 284 are still behind the bars.
Of the 2,364 people arrested under UAPA since 2019 – 918 in 437 cases in 2019, 953 in 557 cases in 2020 and 493 in 275 cases till July 2021 – 1,100 still remain in detention.
Pointing to the rising number of UAPA cases vis a vis cases filed under PSA, a legal expert told Indian Express that UAPA was stricter than PSA which used to need regular extensions of custody.
Official sources told IE that more than 5,500 people were taken into preventive custody under Section 107of CrPC in 2019, while home department sources say that all of them have been released.
The release of political prisoners has been one of the foremost demands of political leaders from the valley who recently had a discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the conduct of Assembly polls. The leaders said the release of the detainees will give a much-needed confidence boost to restart any political exercise in Jammu and Kashmir.
“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,” PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari told IE.
National Conference’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said that the government should at least consider releasing the prisoners or shifting them to Jammu and Kashmir so that their families can meet them.
“The detention of thousands of people from Kashmir under stringent national security laws is a grim reminder of the changelessness in the security scenario in the valley. Contrary to the claims made by the Centre regarding improved law and order situation, the sheer number of people booked under UAPA and PSA in the last two years is alarming and worrisome,” said Adnan Ashraf of People’s Conference.