Rule of lawless laws

Not only AFSPA all draconian lawsmust go lock, stock and barrel

What can be more pathetic than the chief minister of the state, talking of the restoration of state’s eroded utonomy, gleefully hailing the innocuous statement of the Union home minister stating that the government was considering the demand from various states including Jammu and Kashmir for withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) adding that before that “we have to consider the opinion of all the stakeholders”. Though the minister did not specify as to who are the stakeholders on this issue it was obvious that he has the state governments as well as the security establishment in mind. Both for the ruling establishments in New Delhi ad Srinagar the people, who have been suffering due to the enforcement of such obnoxious laws and their gross misuse do not matter. For Omar and the Union home minister the question of revoking the draconian laws may be an issue of debate or that of politicking but for the victims of these opaque laws and the repressive measures adopted to silence their voice are the question of life and death.

Even if the AFSPA is removed from a few areas,where it is not being practically used or which have remained free from militancy it will hardly make any difference as the violation of citizens basic rights are concerned. For there are various other laws, some of these even more draconian than AFSPA in view of their reach and effect, which violate citizens fundamental rights and which are being used by the state to resort to grave human rights abuses. AFSPA is a law which violates the constitutional provisions regard the fundamental rights of the citizens and as such should have no place on the statute book of any democracy worth its name. It arms the armed forces with blanket powers to kill any one or destroy any building merely on suspicion and also provides immunity to them for their actions.
The chief minister has been periodically voicing his disappointment over New Delhi not responding to his demand for partial ( actually symbolic) lifting of AFSPA from certain areas but why has he been maintaining silence over the emand made by the suffering people and human rights groups for the revocation of other draconian laws which have been misused by the state authorities to resort to human rights abuses, curb the citizens basic rights and silence the voices of dissent. These are the laws enacted by the state government itself and the chief minister has not to wait for the Centre’s nod for repealing these dreaded laws. The J&K Disturbed Areas Act, which not only empowers the state police of blanket powers to kill any one or destroy any structure but also promotes the culture of impunity is even more dreaded than AFSPA in view of its effect on people’s liberties and reach.

This lawless law could have lapsed in 1997 if the National Conference government headed by Farooq Abdullah had not got the concerned law passed in the State legislature using its brutal majority. Section 4 and 5 of this law are identical to the provisions in t he AFSPA which grant blanket powers to the armed forces and provide them immunity. In this case “ any police officer, not below of the rank of the sub inspector or head constable in the case of the armed branch of the police, can fire upon, or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, again any person who is indulging any act which may result in serious breach of public order or is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force, prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons or carrying of weapons or of fire arms, ammunition or explosive substances.” Section 5 empowers the police to destroy any structure merely on the basis of suspicion while under section 6 provides the state police immunity for any such acts.

The J&K Public Safety Act, which empowers the police to detain any person without trial for two years without any valid grounds is even more draconian in nature. This law has been blatantly misused to deprive the citizens including minors of their freedom and to silence the voices of dissent. If Omar is genuinely oncerned about the citizens freedom and democratic rights and keen to put an end to human ights abuses then why does he not take initiative to repeal this draconian law. The State government has also been grossly misusing the provisions of criminal procedure code to deprive the citizens of their freedom, ban public rallies and demonstrations, put political leaders under house arrest for months together or to silence the voice of he people.