No to the J&K Police Bil. No to a Police State.
The 'Jammu and Kashmir Police Bill, 2013', made public online was posted on the home department's website on February 15, while Kashmir was under curfew following Afzal Guru's hanging.
The bill allows the state to declare any area disturbed, proposing setting up "Special Security Zones" where "administrative and development measures" are integrated with police response for "problems of public order and security".
The Bill proposes that police be able to set up and arm controversial militia of civilians — as "village defence committees" — and recruit special police officers outside the existing police structure. It also plans a stringent confidentiality clause that could override the existing Right to Information Act in the state.
A police officer would be considered "always on duty" and the government as well as the complaints authority deputed to hear cases against him/her would have legal immunity regarding decisions taken by them "in good faith or intended to be done in pursuance of the provisions" of the Bill.
Any person cleaning a furniture or vehicle, slaughtering an animal, cleaning a carcass or grooming an animal in a public place would invite punishment. So would those trespassing into a government building or land, and those driving, dragging or pushing any non-motorized vehicle at any time between half an hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. Knowingly defecating or urinating in a public place with a view to cause "annoyance", breaking any queue in any public place and other similar "violations of public order" are also frowned upon. Such "offences" would invite imprisonment up to six months or fine up to Rs 2,000.
The state government may declare any area a Special Security Zone (SSZ), when such area is "widely and intolerably beset with violence or insurgency or destruction of public property on account of communal or terrorist or anti-national activities". These SSZs would have a "suitable administrative structure, which shall integrate administrative and developmental measures in the area with the police response to deal with problems of public order and security".
It takes away all powers from Civil Magistrates and gives them to Police Officers.
We demand that more time be given for consultation with all stake holders as well as civil society of the State of J&K, which should be conducted through meetings, consultations and aware workshops on ground, rather than online, keeping in mind that the rural population of J&K does not use internet and they are the ones who face the major brunt of Police brutalities.