The People’s Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has criticised the Jammu and Kashmir government for giving sanction to the creation of the State Investigation Agency (SIA), saying the move is “only aimed to strengthen the repressive apparatus in this region.”
MY Tarigami, spokesperson of the PAGD, which is a group of regional parties in J&K, said the formation of another agency with unbridled powers is one more assault on the democratic rights and civil liberties of citizens. He alleged that in the name of fighting terrorism, these agencies and laws are being weaponised against the citizens who hold a different viewpoint from the government.
The lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha-led administration on Monday cleared the way for the creation of the SIA, on the lines of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), to deal with terror-related cases and to assist the premier probe body of the country. The NIA is investigating almost all terror cases from J&K. The government has also decided that those fighting insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir would get better incentives. The SIA would be headed by a special director who is heading the intelligence wing of the police.
The move came days after union home minister Amit Shah visited Jammu and Kashmir and told the security agencies and the local administration to stamp out militancy there. This was Shah’s first visit to J&K since the Centre in August 2019 abrogated clauses of Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to the-then state and later reorganised it into two union territories. J&K had witnessed a flurry of civilian killings by terrorists in the days ahead of the minister’s arrival.
“What was the need to add one more such agency? Already NIA and UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) have created havoc among the people with gross misuse of these draconian measures,” said Tarigami.
The PAGD noted that the situation in J&K is a political issue and needs a political outreach. What was required to be done was to provide relief and not any addition to such harsh measures that are bound to deepen the alienation of the people, Tarigami said.
“PAGD had opposed all such laws in the past and will do so in future as well,” said the communist leader.
He said even eminent jurists in the country have expressed resentment over the “draconian laws” being passed by the government in the name of fighting terrorism.
“These laws can be wielded as a weapon against opponents. The fight to defend democracy must encompass the struggle to get rid of these draconian laws,” he said.
Earlier, PAGD leader and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti too hit out at the government, saying it is employing every tool to intimidate people into submission.
“The only progress GOI made post 5th August has been creating more tools of state suppression to intimidate people into submission & silence. As if ED, CBI, NIA & anti terror laws weren’t enough, we now have SIA with sweeping powers & impunity to repress people further in J&K,” she tweeted.