Kashmir, Ather Zia, Srinagar, Critical Kashmir Studies, Public Safety Act, PSA, Amnesty International, law, policy, dissent, graffiti, Anthropology of Policy, Instagram

“PSA Zone” says this graffiti. PSA stands for a dreaded law implemented by India to repress any form of dissent. An acronym for the Public Safety Act, the Kashmiris see it as anything but. Amnesty International (AI) has called the PSA as a “lawless law.” Thousands of Kashmiri youth and activists including lawyers and journalists are incarcerated under the PSA. AI estimates of the number detained over the past two decades range from 8,000 to 20,000. Many prisoners after release are often re-arrested. The re-arrests and illegal detentions have become a matter of state policy. Masarat Alam, a resistance leader has been slapped with 32 PSAs. AI reports state that those detained under PSA are called “anti-national solely because they support the cause for Kashmiri independence or a merger with Pakistan and because they are challenging the state through political action or peaceful dissent.” Despite the major shift in the nature of Kashmiri resistance from arms to protest and rock throwing, the Indian state has not scaled down on killings, torture, or arrests. As of writing this more than 57 people have been killed, over 4000 injured and about 100 youth blinded by the lethal Indian force to quell a mass uprising. HR organizations have denounced the disproportionate use of force. Most of the wounded expecting detainment do not go to hospitals for treatment. And those who do go remain in dread. The hospital administration sympathetic to the protestors often uses numbers instead of names for the injured to keep their identity confidential. Already more than 1000 arrests have been made and many more are expected. Being arrested in Kashmir is technically a life sentence because the counterinsurgency forces constantly hound the arrestees. A young detainee sums it up well saying: “it is really a Public Unsafety Act.” – Ather Zia

Image (c) Ather Zia 2016. Originally posted on ASAP Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BI25W5WBxfZ/?taken-by=anthofpolicy

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