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A Lawless Law in A Lawless Land

In Human Rights, India, Innocent Killings, Kashmir, People, Politics on 22 March, 2011 at 1:13 pm

What does one do for revenge? Or for wanting something from someone against his will? Or for hating someone’s guts? Or wanting to ‘teach a lesson?’ Or for bullying someone at school? One can either act on them or just be content without doing anything. A lot of them appear vague reasons, meriting no response. (Some of these reasons are stronger than what our government uses to arrest people (it uses no reason) as you will read later on).

How does one act to fulfil these wishes, if one can not be merely content? A person may kidnap another to ‘teach him a lesson,’ or ‘demand money’ or  ‘ just kill him.’ This person then will be considered a kidnapper or a killer, as the case may be. A sane democratic government will hunt this person down and then put him on trial and then behind bars.

Q. But what if a state wants to do ‘all of the above’, and get away with it? What can the state do?

A. The state imposes a law and calls it Public Safety Act – an act that can squeeze the very air out of the public.

The Amnesty International has just released a report on this beautifully crafted law.

India: A ‘lawless law’: Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.

Hundreds of people are locked up on spurious grounds under the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir every year. This report exposes a catalogue of human rights violations associated with the use of administrative detention under the Public Safety Act. It highlights how these run counter to India’s obligations under international human rights law. If India is serious about meeting these obligations, then it must ensure that the Public Safety Act is repealed and that detainees are released immediately or tried in a court of law.

Download the executive summary in English (pdf) or Urdu. The complete report can be downloaded here (pdf, English only).

What is this law?

The PSA happens to be a more punitive form of the DIA that was described by various National leaders including Mahatma Gandhi as draconian and a black law enacted by Britishers to suppress Indian freedom struggle.

After independence, Defense of India Act changed nomenclature in the year 1967 and is presently known as Public Safety Act, more precisely in Jammu and Kashmir as Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act-1978 with provisions and impunity almost similar to the act of British era.


This isn’t the first instance that AI has spoken out against this law. It has been seen as a threat to human rights, since decades in Kashmir.

And, one may very well come to the conclusion that this law has become the favorite of Omar Abdullah. Summer protests have become a norm of Kashmir for the last three years, but the usage of PSA has only spiked during Omar Abdullah’s tenure.

It comes no surprise, considering that his IGP doesn’t think ICRC has any credibility.

  1. I wish the state and federal govt will have a dispassionate look into the contents of the report and good sense would prevail upon all to undo the wrong done by persons who claim to be guardians of law and would help in ensuring impletation of orders of court and they would also desist from taking recourse to arbitary exercise of power to supress the democratic voice of people in kashmir

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