Jaish calls strike on Friday to protest terror law

Militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad has called for a general strike in Kashmir on Friday to protest against the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) used for the first time in the state, reports in the local media said on Wednesday.

Militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad has called for a general strike in Kashmir on Friday to protest against the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) used for the first time in the state, reports in the local media said on Wednesday.

POTO, pushed into law under an emergency constitutional provision after the air attacks on the United States, allows suspects to be detained for 30 days without trial.

"We appeal to people to observe a complete shutdown on Friday and demonstrate that Kashmir's freedom struggle cannot not be crushed by a dreaded law like POTO," a statement from the organisation published in local newspapers said.

"Jaish-e-Mohammad also urges Srinagar-based newspapers to suspend their publications for one day and join the Friday strike," the statement said.

POTO makes it mandatory for anyone, including journalists, with information about potential acts of terrorism to pass it on to security officials.

The controversial decree, which defines a terrorist as anyone threatening India's unity as well as causing terror among its people, was used by police in Kashmir for the first time last week to seal a house in Srinagar where suspected separatist guerrillas were hiding.

Opposition parties have slammed the anti-terrorism measure as draconian and said it could be used to muzzle free speech or target the country's minority Muslim population.

But Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has denied their claims. "POTO will be used against terrorists and those who harbour them. But it will not be used against any innocent person," Abdullah told a public meeting in Jammu.

"If the fire of terror has engulfed Jammu and Kashmir today, how can Delhi or any other state remain free from its embers?" he said.
Bureau Report

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