More powers in special zones: J&K police Bill has AFSPA ring
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Imroz also questioned the expansion of the role of SPOs and village defence committees. "The government is seeking to formalise practices that have resulted in structural police violence in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Senior J&K High Court lawyer Riyaz Khawar accused the government of trying to make a police state. "They are taking away magisterial powers and giving it to the police," Khawar said. "So even if the AFSPA is repealed, they would have already brought it back via this police Act."
Minister of State for Home Sajad Kichloo claimed that "most of the features in the draft Bill are based on a model Bill prepared by a committee of eminent experts constituted by the government of India and on the directions of the Supreme Court". They would consider the suggestions received on it, he added.
Some of the proposals:
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-motorised 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 director general of police would draw up an "Internal Security Scheme" for the entire state and formulate an SOP. Under it, even lawful activity by a group or organisation that has the "potential of disturbing law and order" would need prior police permission.
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".