Kashmir Protesters Released on Condition They Won’t Talk to Media
“Police told us not to talk to media about the incident,” a protester told The Quint on condition of anonymity.
“The police made us sign a bond which had two conditions: one, that we will not participate in any political or public meetings for one year, and second, we will not talk to media or anybody about the incident.”
This is what a protester, who had participated in the peaceful protest staged in Srinagar against the abrogation of Article 370 on Tuesday, 15 October, told The Quint on condition of anonymity.
Around 13 women protesters, including National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah’s sister and daughter, participated in this protest against the end of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. They were all booked under Section 107 of the Jammu and Kashmir Code of Criminal Procedure for “breach of the peace” and sent to the Central Jail.
Supreme Court advocate Ehsan Javaid, who has worked on several such cases from Kashmir, explained how this works to The Quint: “The bond is a preventive measure taken by the police – if violated, like by other Kashmiri politicians, the police can slap the Public Safety Act on protesters.”
Are Such Conditions Legal?
Javaid said that while the usage of Section 107 is not uncommon, he believes the restriction imposed on not talking to the media can be challenged in the court.
“Not talking to media is questionable. It doesn’t disturb peace or public order, then why should it be a part of the bond? Saying that you shouldn’t talk to media can be challenged.”Ehsan Javaid, Advocate, Supreme Court
This was the first all-women protest staged at Sri Pratap Park in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Some of the protesters wore black bands and criticised the media for its misleading coverage of the soon-to-be-Union Territory.
The protesters were kept in jail for one night and released on Wednesday, 16 October. All protesters were asked to sign a “maafinama” (bond) but had initially refused, one of the protesters said.
“It’s our right to talk to media but they (police) don’t think so. They made us sign the bond and also took Rs 10,000 from each one of us. If we violate the conditions of the bond then we have to pay a penalty of Rs 40,000 and they might also put us behind bars again.”Protester
The arrests of the protesters had already generated a great deal of controversy, even before this information came to light.
Actor/director Aamir Bashir, who is from Kashmir, had shared a series of tweets on Wednesday about his mother and his aunts who had participated in the protest, which gave some insight into the motivations of the protesters and the difficulties faced by them because of their arrest.
The protester said that all of them who had signed the bond are now exploring legal actions to challenge its conditions.
Section 107 was the same provision used to detain former IAS officer Shah Faesal. As The Quint noted at the time, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir did not appear to have complied with all the procedural formalities required for detentions under this provision, including first sending a formal written notice and allowing the detainee to offer reasons for why they shouldn’t have to sign such a bond.
Lawyers who have worked on detentions in Kashmir over the years told The Quint that such a failure to follow the required procedure for detention under Section 107 is extremely common.
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