Hoisting Pakistani flag is not an offence but…

Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: Is hoisting of Pakistani flag an offence under law? No, say legal experts. Government officials agree, but say if the law enforcing authorities perceive its raising amounts to showing “disaffection and disloyalty to the country”, then a person can be booked.
Senior lawyer and former J&K High Court Bar Association general secretary Ghulam Nabi Shaheen said a high court ruling says that hoisting of Pakistani flag is not an offence.
“The police cases against persons hoisting Pakistan flag are completely unconstitutional. There is no statute which says hoisting a foreign flag is a criminal offence,” he said.
Law secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir told Kashmir Reader that a person can also be booked for hoisting a particular flag if it is perceived by the government as “waging war against the state”.
Scores of youth and pro-freedom leaders have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the police for hoisting the Pakistani flag in Kashmir.
On Wednesday, the police booked Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) chairperson Asiya Andrabi under the Act after an Indian news channel ran a news story showing her hoisting the Pakistani flag and singing Pakistani national anthem in the room of a house in old Srinagar.
“Hoisting Pakistani flag in Kashmir is a political act and political statement,” a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.
“It creates disaffection among people and instigates them to rebel against the country. So we have to book people under unlawful acts for hoisting Pakistani flags,” he said.
According to Shaheen, however, the UAPA “can’t be interpreted in this manner”. That is why, he said, most such FIRs get quashed in the court of law easily.

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