Armed forces, police curtail freedoms in Kashmir: US state dept

Srinagar: The police have been conducting searches without warrants, while government forces have been detaining and assaulting members of political groups engaged in peaceful protests, said a US Department of State report.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and Manipur, security officials have special authorities to search and arrest without a warrant,” the report said.
“Police are required to obtain warrants to conduct searches and seizures, except in cases in which such actions would cause undue delay. Police must justify warrantless searches in writing to the nearest magistrate with jurisdiction over the offense,” it states.
The report states that authorities often required permits and notification before parades or demonstrations, and local governments generally respected the right to protest peacefully, except in Jammu and Kashmir, where the state government sometimes denied permits to resistance groups for public gatherings, and forces sometimes detained and assaulted members of political groups engaged in peaceful protest.
“During periods of civil unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, authorities used the criminal procedure code to ban public assemblies or impose a curfew,” the report adds.
Referring to the acquiring of passports in the state, it said the “citizens from Jammu and Kashmir faced extended delays, sometimes as long as two years, for issuance or renewal of passports”.
Quoting example of one Zahoor Ahmad Mir, the report reads that the “state government of Jammu and Kashmir repeatedly denied a passport to Zahoor Ahmad Mir, the younger brother of a violent insurgent”.
“The state government denied Mir a passport for the third time in October after his passport application had been pending for three years,” the report added.
The report also sheds light on the Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission stating it does not have the authority to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by armed forces.
“The NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) has jurisdiction over all human rights violations, except in certain cases in which the army is involved. In those cases the states of Jammu and Kashmir are covered under the AFSPA, as in all other parts of the country,” the report adds.
The report quoting Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society stated that eight extrajudicial killings by the armed forces were carried out in 2012.
“The government failed to prosecute or conduct impartial investigations of these deaths by the end of the year,” the report said.
Regarding political prisoners in Kashmir, the US state department report citing Non Governmental organizations (NGO’s) report said that were reports of political prisoners and detainees.
“NGOs reported that the Jammu and Kashmir government held political prisoners and temporarily detained more than 690 persons characterized as terrorists, insurgents, and separatists under the Public Safety Act (PSA) between 2005 and 2014,” it stated.
“Authorities permitted visitors some access to prisoners, although some family members stated they were denied access to relatives held in detention, particularly in conflict areas, including Jammu and Kashmir,” the report adds.
The report stated that PSA, which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits state authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for as long as two years without visitation from family members.
“Detainees are allowed access to a lawyer during interrogation, but police in Jammu and Kashmir routinely employed arbitrary detention and denied detainees, particularly the destitute, access to lawyers and medical attention,” the report states,
The report stated that NGOs claimed that due to immunity provisions of the AFSPA, the armed forces were not held responsible for the deaths of civilians killed in Jammu and Kashmir.

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