J&K government revokes PSA for 70 prisoners amid Covid-19 crisis
The Jammu and Kashmir government has revoked the application of the Public Safety Act (PSA) to 70 people being held in jails within and outside the Union Territory, paving the way for their release against the backdrop of the Covid-19 crisis.
Two dozen prisoners held under the PSA, a majority of them political detainees, have already been released from Srinagar’s Central Jail and Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu.
Other prisoners are set to be released soon from jails in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh after the government issued orders to revoke the application of PSA against them, people familiar with developments said on Tuesday.
Under the provisions of PSA, people can be held without charge for up to two years. The law was invoked against several politicians after the Union government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year.
The decision to revoke the application of PSA against the prisoners, most of them from different parts of the Kashmir Valley, was made after the Centre gave its nod to a proposal from the Jammu and Kashmir government. The order for the revocation was then issued by the union territory’s home affairs department, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
Leaders of mainstream political parties and civil society groups have made several appeals to the Central government to release detained people, especially those held ahead of the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution last August.
The director general (prisons), VK Singh, said the release of the prisoners is an ongoing process. “The prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir and jails outside are being released, it a continuous process,” he said.
Hindustan Times has reviewed more than a dozen PSA revocation orders for people from several districts of Kashmir. The orders were issued in the past two days for many people currently held in jails outside the Union Territory.
The Jammu and Kashmir government is making arrangements to bring the released prisoners back to the Kashmir Valley, especially after the nationwide lockdown was extended till May 3 on Tuesday. The people said the released prisoners are expected to be either given special passes for travel or provided vehicles.