Govt imposes Section 144 in Srinagar | ‘Collective Punishment’ move draws flak

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By: Umer Maqbool
Srinagar: With the district administration in Srinagar banning assembly of five or more persons under section 144 CrPC yet again, the move of imposing frequent prohibitory orders under the provision drew flak from different quarters.
Since 2008 civil unrest, the state government used 144 CrPC continuously to ban the assembly of people and impose undeclared curfew in addition to the declared curfew. Under section 144 CrPC the district administration can impose curfew and ban assembly of five or more persons. The offenders of the section are liable to punishment under section 188 RPC.
According to senior advocate Zaffar Shah the provision has been misused by authorities for the past two decades in the Valley.
“This provision has been abused for last 20 years as all processions and assemblies of the people have been banned under it. The District Magistrate can pass an order valid for two months only. But the orders have been extended from time to time and have remained in operation almost for last two decades without any break,” Shah says.
 The human rights activists too echo similar views.
 President of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Parvez Imroz said that it impinges right to peaceful assembly.
 “This is being used to curb civil rights of people and has been legacy of successive regimes in the state even before 1989,” Imroz said, adding that this provision only prevents holding of assembly at public places, but even the functions at private places are barred here.
 “We have seen in the past that seminars, video conferences and book release functions were scuttled under this section,” he said.
 When contacted, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani said the section 144 was imposed to prevent law and order problem.
 “We don’t use it for fancy. Wherever it is required to prevent trouble, the respective district magistrates use it,” he said.

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