Jammu and Kashmir police’s recent decision to book seven students of an agricultural university under anti-terror law UAPA offers a glimpse of why Jammu and Kashmir has worn the dubious crown of being the region with the highest number of such cases the third time in a row.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has reported a significant surge in cases registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the country from 814 to 1,005 in 2021 and 2022. Out of the 1,005 cases, Jammu and Kashmir alone contributed 371 — more than a third. Given that Jammu and Kashmir’s population is around 1 per cent of the country’s population, the figure looks even more ominous.
The seven students of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology were booked allegedly for cheering Australia’s win in the Cricket World Cup. A non-local student from the university who had filed the complaint had alleged harassment for supporting India. The students got bail after the police dropped the UAPA charges.
Kashmir High Court Bar Association spokesman Ghulam Nabi Shaheen said the grim statistics were proof that the situation was not normal here.
“The UAPA and the Public Safety Act (which allows detention without trial) are the most common applications in Kashmir. You have around 1,400 PSA cases pending in the courts here, of which 900 cases are in the final hearing stage. The problem is their listing is delayed,” Shaheen told The Telegraph.
“Things are worse when it comes to the UAPA. People from all walks of life (including journalists) are being booked under it.”
The NCRB report for 2022 reveals that Manipur, which had the highest number of UAPA cases before Jammu and Kashmir, has seen its numbers dwindle to 167.
Jammu and Kashmir’s numbers started rising in 2018, the year the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government, when 245 people were booked under the UAPA.
In 2019, when Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status and statehood, the numbers rose to 270 but Manipur was still ahead with 306 cases. Jammu and Kashmir topped the list with 287 cases against Manipur’s 169 in 2020. In 2021, it rose further to 289 while Manipur’s numbers fell further to 159.