235 Habeas Corpus Cases in J & K HC since Aug 5, 800 Detained: Hindu

While the habeas corpus cases in the J & K High Court shot up to 120 in August and September 2019 respectively, The Hindu also reported that in an interview to the paper, the erstwhile state’s Director General of Police, Dilbar Singh admitted to 800 being detained with as many as 150 being sent to jails out of the state.

Kashmir detention
Image Courtesy: Saqib Majeed / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

While the J&K High Court has witnessed a upwards spiral  in habeas corpus cases in the wake of the crackdown against citizens that began on August 5 in the Kashmir valley, the “unprecedented situation” in the valley is holding back the Court from issuing any orders for relief in cases of detentions. This data from the HC has been accessed by The Hindu, and shows that while only 15 and 26 habeas corpus cases were filed before the court in June and July, respectively. The number shot up to 120 in August and about 115 in the first three weeks of September. Interestingly, no Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the past two months.

Tragically, while petitions have been filed, the case histories studied by the paper showed that none of the detainees were produced before the court nor any relief offered, except in the writ petitions filed by lawyer Shabnum Lone, sister of incarcerated Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone, and National Conference MPs Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone. The court granted permission to meeting with the detained leadership in these two cases.

 ‘Youth from J&K being sent to jails outside State’

The newspaper also has photographs of hundreds of hapless citizens waiting outside police station in Shopian to get information on detained relatives.

The Hindu has these case studies too:

Gulzar Ahmad Wagey has not seen his 11-year-old son for 22 days. Mr. Wagey, a shopkeeper in Shopian’s Keegam village, said his son was picked up by security forces in the last week of August from their home. He said he had been coming to the police station every day to know the son’s whereabouts. “I do not know why he was arrested. Saheb (Superintendent of Police) assured us that he will let me meet him,” said Mr. Wagey as he waited outside the Shopian headquarters. He later said the police had agreed to release his son.

Hundreds waited outside the police station in Shopian to get information about their relatives, friends and neighbours when The Hindu visited the place last week  800 in detention.

The J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said in an interview to The Hindu that August 5 onwards, around 3,000 cases were reported where young men were picked up and released subsequently in the Kashmir Valley. Around 800 remain in detention and nearly 150 are lodged in jails outside J&K.

Shopian is one of the worst militancy-affected districts in South Kashmir. There are around 225 villages in the district spread over 60,000 hectares of which half is covered by apple orchards. It is the largest producer of apples in J&K. According to police, last year 42 men from Shopian joined various terrorist groups, while this year only 17 took to militancy. A police officer said that post August 5, only one man joined the terror group.

In the past one year, as many as 20,000 people have signed community bonds to secure the release of 800 young men and boys who were involved in incidents of stone-pelting. The J&K police have started a unique practice of engaging the community elders, religious teachers and family members to deter the youth from repeating offences like throwing stones at security forces. As per the bond, the community members are made to stand as guarantors for the youth at the local police station for first-time offenders. The bond has no legal sanctity though.

All markets remain shut in Shopian. Muzaffar Ahamd Ganai, a former sarpanch said that residents were not opening shops in protest. “Earlier separatists used to give call for a strike. We are not bothered about them. This hartal [strike] is by the people. We will not resort to any violence but are ready to sacrifice business for our rights,” said Mr. Ganai, adding that this was a civil protest against the Centre’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

“We are called terrorists when we go outside the State. Mobile phones are down. We are rotting in our houses. We do not trust any political leader. Leaders like Farooq Abdullah who stood with India have been put in jail,” he added.




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