How India denies ‘Right to Travel’ to Kashmiris | Abid Salam reports from Baramulla, Kashmir

The Public Safety Act was brought into effect in 1978, primarily to adopt a tough measure against timber smuggling in the state. It was much later that the act was frequently used to control militancy-related incidents. Under this act, the government can declare any area as ‘protected’ and exercise authority to regulate entry of any citizen in the protected area. Attempts to forcefully enter the designated areas invite prosecution.

The Public Safety Act gives Jammu & Kashmir government the power to detain anyone who acts “in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”. To be precise, an individual faces the risk of being detained if he or she is found “promoting, propagating, or attempting to create feelings of enmity or hatred or disharmony on grounds of religion, race, caste and community”. This detention without trial happens under the pretext of maintaining public order.

Due to the ongoing conflict in Indian administered Kashmir, the authorities are denying the right to travel to the subjects of Kashmir and if estimates are believed then some 60-70 thousand such applicants, whose relatives were involved in militancy directly or indirectly, have been barred from travelling abroad.

In this story Sheikh Mudassir who is a young youth from the old town of Baramulla who was arrested at the age of 17 under PSA in 2008 and released after two years giving him a clean chit. But till date he is being denied to get a passport.

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