Jammu advocate booked under PSA for organising protests against Kashmir killings

By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net

Doda:The J&K Police on Saturday evening arrested a prominent advocate, social activist and human rights defender, Babar-ul-Islam Nehru from Saah Mohallah of Doda district in Chenab valley and booked him under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

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Earlier this month, the Chenab valley, especially the districts of Doda and Kishtwar had called for shutdown against brute use of force in Kashmir leading to killings. Peaceful protest marches were taken in both the district, but later led to communal tensions occurred in Doda district after local Hindu population objected to the pro freedom and anti India slogans. The marches in Doda district were spearheaded by Babar ul Islam.

Babar ul Islam

On Saturday night, Babar was arrested and taken to Central jail. The police have filed three FIRs against him.

The PSA was promulgated by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 against timber smugglers. However, it was later used against political opponents and finally against people taking part in pro-freedom activities in J&K. The law allows arresting and jailing a person without trial for two years on mere suspicion that he/she may disrupt law and order in the state or may act in a manner prejudicial to the security of the state.

Babar is also the founder of Ababeel, an NGO actively participating in social initiatives. In 2014 floods, Babar and his group mobilised resources from Chenab valley to help the flood-affected people in Kashmir. His organisation has also worked on health and education sector in the erstwhile districts.

In his capacity as a lawyer, Babar was called the voice of voiceless in Doda district. To ensue justice, he used to fight cases of poor people for free.

Importantly, in the month of May when Babar along with parents of toddlers protested and entered the office of the Deputy Commissioner against the non-availability of child specialist in District Hospital Doda, the Police registered an FIR against him. Later, he was released on bail.

Many social and political organisations have condemned his arrest on the basis of political rivalry and growing image as a ‘youth icon’ in the entire Chenab valley region.

President of Bar Association Doda Advocate Syed Asim Hashmi, Senior Advocate and eminent writer Imtiaz Mir and human rights activist Haji Abdul Qayoom Zargar and Doda Development Front patron Khawaja M A Kichloo have strongly condemned the arrest of Babar.

“Arresting youths and lodging them in Jails won’t be any solution to problem but it will invoke more people. The government should stop putting youths behind jails, who are active for social causes,” Haq Nawaz Nehru a member of a human rights organisation from Doda told TwoCircles.net.

Importantly, The Indian Express had reported that the Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided to invoke the stringent Public Safety Act to book 169 persons who it accuses of being “organisers and provocateurs” playing a “leading role in the current unrest in Kashmir”.

These 169 are among the estimated 1,000 people who have been identified as key players in the ongoing protests and clashes with security forces.