India is misusing lawless law in Kashmir, US NGO informs UNHRC at Geneva

Geneva: International Human Rights Association of American minorities (IHRAAM), a global organisation dedicated to human rights and right to self-determination, has expressed deep concern about Kashmiris’ arbitrarily detentions and accused India of widely misusing a law allowing for detention without trial in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Barrister Abdul Majid Tramboo represents the IHRAAM at the 43rd session (24 February-20 March 2020) of the Human Rights Council at UN offices in Geneva.

The Public Safety Act (PSA), which Indian Supreme Court describes a “lawless law” under which the Indian authorities hold children, old people, political leaders, activists, lawyers and protesters, IHRAAM said in its statement submitted at on ongoing session.

It was a breach of international human rights law, the statement of IHRAAM said published on the UN General Assembly said.

The IHRAAM, which is in consultative status with the UN, demands that PSA be scrapped and prisoners released.

“OHCHR, the President of UNHRC and UNGA must take serious note of this and call upon India to repeal the PSA to ensure it complies with its international human rights norms and obligations and release all the prisoners detained under PSA,” it said.

The law prohibits the detention of children but IHRAAM said that Indian authorities knowingly detained minors under this law.

IHRAAM said that Indian authorities use the PSA as a safety net, using it to secure the detention of people who are released, or likely to be released, on bail.

It said that authorities keep on issuing orders to keep people behind bars.

In August 2018, authorities amended the Act to remove a proviso that barred detainees who are permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir from being lodged in jails outside the state.

The US NGO IHRAAM said that at least 40 pro-freedom Kashmiri political leaders, who are detained under PSA, have been moved to Indian jails outside the state.

In its statement, IHRAAM mentioned the names of about 24 top Kashmiri political leaders, activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders who are lodged in Indian jails outside the state.

Among those transferred to the Indian jails include top pro-freedom leaders Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Asiya Andrabi, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Fahmida and Masarat Alam Bhat.

Masarat Alam Bhat has been detained for a cumulative period of 20 years since 1990, despite never being charged with a crime, IHRAAM said.

This law provides cover to those officials who detain people arbitrarily.

As per Section 22, “no suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith” under the PSA.

List of Other Prisoners Mentioned in the Statement

IHRAAM said that there are hundreds of political activists, advocates, human rights defenders who have been detained across in several Jammu & Kashmir and Indian jails under the PSA that include Ms. Fahmeeda Sofi, Ms. Nahida Nasreen, Altaf Ahmed Shah, Aiyaz Muhammad Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Raja Merajuddin Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam, Mohammad Aslam Wani, Zahoor Watali, Syed Shahid Yousaf Shah, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, Mian Abdul Qayoom (President, Kashmir Bar Association), Muhammad Ashraf Bhat (Secretary-General, Kashmir Bar Association), Showkat Ahmad Bakshi, Noor Mohammad Kalwall, Nazir Ahmad Ronga, Hilal Akbar Lone and Muhammad Ahsan Untoo.

In the 43rd session of United Nations Human Rights Council, a side event titled “Siege Continues In Jammu and Kashmir” was organised by the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) on 26th February 2020. Dr. Shireen M Mazari , Minister for Human Rights, Govt of Pakistan was the keynote speaker at the event.