Two religious scholars among seven booked under PSA in Kashmir

Sep 17, 2022 12:26 AM IST

The authorities are tight-lipped about the reasons for the arrests. Under the public safety act (PSA), the authorities have the power to put a person behind bars without any trial for up to two years.

SRINAGAR Jammu and Kashmir authorities booked seven persons, including two religious clerics, under the public safety act (PSA), indicative of a crackdown on religious groups in the Kashmir valley.

Representative picture.
Representative picture.

The seven persons belong to different Islamic schools of thought or religious organisations, including Barelvi, Jamiat ahle Hadees (JaH) or Salafi and banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

Two among the seven booked are Abdul Rashid Dawoodi and Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, who are considered influential preachers with a large following on social media. Dawoodi, a Barelvi scholar, is head of ‘Tehreek e Soutul Auliya’ based in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, while Veeri, who was booked under PSA in 2019 also, is a religious leader of Jamiat ahle Hadees (JaH) in Anantnag.

“Two religious persons (Molvis) and five JeI activists arrested under PSA,” informed Vijay Kumar, additional director general of police, Kashmir.

The authorities are tight-lipped about the reasons for the arrests. Under the public safety act, the authorities have the power to put a person behind bars without any trial for up to two years.

The family members of the detained persons suspected that they may have been shifted to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu. Of the five former members of banned JeI who have been arrested, two are Faheem Mohammad Ramzan and Gazi Moin-ul-Islam Nadvi, people close to both families, who did not wish to be named, said.

A call to the former spokesperson of JeI, advocate Zahid Ali, was picked up by a family member who said that he had also been arrested. “Yesterday police came and asked him to come to the police station. He has been arrested and has not returned home,” a family member said.

In February 2019, the Centre banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and arrested hundreds of its members on the grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and was expected to “escalate the secessionist movement” in the state. The ban was imposed five months before the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked.

The arrests triggered harsh reactions, including from CPIM leader and spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), MY Tarigami.

“There are reports about the detention of three well-known religious clerics. The move is rather deplorable and bound to deepen the uncertainty further,” said Tarigami in a tweet.

Former vice-chairman J&K Waqf Board and senior People’s Conference leader, Nizamuddin Bhat appealed to the Union home minister and lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha to reconsider the decision of arresting clerics of religious standing under PSA.

“Jammu and Kashmir has been a witness to various problems and makes a special case for a just and liberal view in respect of people influenced by political discourses. In the past, a reconciliatory approach had been adopted…,” he appealed.

Bhat also sought the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on cases of “prolonged and excessive hunt of youth, which has caused helplessness and may erode people’s faith in the system”.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet said it reflects ‘BJP’s communal mindset.’

“If normalcy as claimed by GOI has indeed returned to J&K with zero incidents of stone pelting & other activities considered anti-national, why are they booking religious scholars under draconian laws like PSA? Outrightly condemn such actions that reflect BJPs communal mindset,” she said in a tweet.

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