Nayeem Ahmad Dar shot to fame after he became the youngest to be booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Kashmir last year. He was only 17 then.
Dar was arrested in June during the peak of the Shopian agitation, sparked by the death of two women. He spent three months in a jail in Poonch, 500 km southwest of Srinagar.
Promulgated in 1978 and amended in ’87 and ’90, the PSA empowers the government to detain a person without trial for two years. But, instead of acting as a deterrent, the law is creating dissidence among Kashmiris.
They see it as a ‘draconian’ law that is a threat to human rights. Experts feel such laws can make the youths disturbed and maladjusted.
“When a teenager is booked under the PSA, he cannot apply for admission in a college, a job and even a bank loan. There is a danger of such youths resorting to anti-social acts,” said Bashir Ahmad Dabla, a sociologist at Kashmir University.
According to NGO Initiative for Peace and Justice (IPJ), more than 500 protesters, including juveniles, have been arrested in the state since January. Minors comprise 50 per cent of the arrested protesters, the organisation claims. “Many juveniles are detained illegally without being brought before the courts for judicial remand or establishing charges,” said IPJ advocate Babar Qadri.
However, the police don’t see the PSA as harsh. “The act is dissuading protesters to a large extent,” Reyaz Bedar, Srinagar SSP, said.
But sociologists say the PSA will not help remove stone-pelters from the streets. Instead, the law will stir concern among Kashmiris about the well being of their children, they say.