The attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama in mid-February and the escalating tensions between India & Pakistan following Balakot air strikes, have provided ample occasion for the Indian state to use draconian laws to further suppress the democratic aspirations and struggles of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The banning of Muhammad Yasin Malik faction of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF -Y by the Central Government on 22nd March under provisions of the ) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, is the latest in a chain of attacks which started with the arrests of hundreds of people following Pulwama, often under the draconian of Public Security Act (PSA), followed by ban on Jamat-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir on February 28, 2019 under section 3 (3) (immediate effect) of the UAPA. Taken together with the ban on JKLF as an “unlawful organisation” a clear pattern emerges of a concerted policy of repression and sanctioned impunity by the state similar to that of the late1990s, of which the brutal custodial torture and murder of school Principal and Jamat member Rizwan Asad is a horrific reminder.
Like JiI the ban on JKLF was invoked using Gazette notifications under Section 3 (3) of the UAPA (for the ban on Jamat see PUDR statement on The Illegal Ban of Jamaat-E-Islami dated 15 March 2019). The Gazette notification for banning JKLF does not provide any information related to the cases of violent and terrorist activities against JKLF. It only indicates the opinion of central government that JKLF is involved in anti-national activities, provides support to extremism and has intention of secession of a part of county.
S.3(2) 0f the UAPA provides that every such notification declaring an organisation unlawful shall specify the grounds on which it is issued. In the press conference to declare the ban on JKLF, the Union Home secretary Mr. Rajiv Gauba cited past cases including murder of Diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in 1984, the killing and exodus of Kashmiri pandits in 1988-89 which were allegedly “mastermind[ed]” by Yasin Malik, the 1989 case of kidnapping of Dr Rubaiyya Saeed, the murder of IAF officers in 199O. No recent cases were mentioned. Dating back 29 years and more these are not tenable grounds for banning the organisation. In the absence of any concrete instances of criminal activities of JKLF in the immediately preceding years, the ban is groundless and unlawful under the very UAPA which is being invoked for ban.
Under Section 4 of the UAPA a ban requires the formation of and adjudication by a Tribunal before it can come into force. However, Section 3(3) allows for the ban to take place with “immediate effect”, bypassing the Tribunal, but the government must provide additional grounds. In a situation where even grounds are absent, much less additional grounds, the “immediate effect” clause lacks all credibility. The central government decision to use section 3 (3) of UAPA for banning these organisation without providing ‘additional ground’ runs against the mandatory requirement of the UAPA law itself.
The ban criminalises both erstwhile and present members of the JKLF as well as their families. Many JKLF activists are being tried and implicated in old cases. The ban facilitates reactivation of old cases and arrests against activists thus targeting and restricting the political activities of a mass organisation such as JKLF. It may be recalled that the JKLF under Yasin Malik had given up arms for democratic politics in 1994Yasin Malik had been part of the dialogue process both under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led BJP government in 2000, and the Congress Government with Manmohan Singh as PM in 2006. Even before the ban was declared Yasin Malik was arrested under PSA. Undergoing solitary confinement in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail, Malik is being investigated in thirty year old cases.
PUDR strongly protests against the Indian state’s attack on political rights of Kashmiri people, the emerging outcomes of which are indeed worrisome. We demand
- The revocation of bans on JKLF and JIL.
- Immediate release of all political prisoners.
- Scrapping the UAPA.
Shahana Bhattacharya and Deepika Tandon