Srinagar: The Public Safety Act (PSA),
which has come under severe criticism for its "blatant use"
against stone-pelters, has been an effective tool to keep the
drug peddlers and timber smugglers in check in Jammu and
Kashmir, police officials claim.
The statistics show that the PSA was invoked against
timber smugglers, drug peddlers and saffron adulterers in 56
per cent cases, while it was used against stone-pelters in 44
per cent cases.
The total number of PSA detentions was 332 during the
In 2010, the police arrested and booked 32 drug peddlers
and an equal number of timber smugglers under the PSA in
Kashmir Valley, a senior police official said.
He said as many as 10 persons were booked under the
law, which has been widely criticised by the separatists and
human rights groups including Amnesty International, for
adulteration of saffron.
Amnesty International, in its recent report on human
rights in Kashmir, termed the PSA as a "lawless law".
However, the judiciary has played an important role in
checking the misuse of the law, according to the statistics.
Only five of the 72 persons booked under PSA for timber
smuggling, drug peddling and adulteration have been released
by the courts while the booking of others has been upheld.
Baramulla district in north Kashmir, which is still
widely militancy-hit, has seen a spurt in drug peddling as is
evident from 18 persons being booked under the PSA.
Awantipora in south Kashmir`s Pulwama district is second
with 10 cases during the last year. South Kashmir has emerged
as the hub for cultivation of banned substances like poppy and
Baramulla district also tops the list in timber
smuggling with 19 persons booked under the PSA for the offence
during 2010. Budgam in central Kashmir ranks second with eight
booking in the corresponding year.
47 ultras and 69 of their sympathisers were booked under
the law last year.
However, the authorities have not been able to make a
good case against these people as 45 of them were released by
courts. Even in the case of stone-pelters, the courts have set
free 59 persons out of the 145 arrested under the PSA.
"Yes, we have been using the PSA against militants,
overground workers and in some cases, the stone-pelters as
well. However, it is inevitable for maintaining peace, law and
order," the police officer said.