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Terrorising Kashmiris into silence

National Investigation Agency (NIA), established by the government of India has intensified its operations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir despite the fact that the NIA has no jurisdiction in the state, which under article 370 of India enjoys special status. The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008. The agency, which has been directly operating from New Delhi is now said to have established its branch offices in Jammu to expand its influence in the disputed territory. The NIA had considered setting up four permanent offices in J&K in 2015. However, the plan was shelved after Hurriyat Conference threatened to launch a public agitation against the purported plan. Hurriyat, an amalgam of different pro-freedom political parties in a statement had termed the act as a clear violation of the special status (of J&K under Indian Constitution) and the constitution of the state. The Srinagar Bar too had raised their concerns over the validity of the (NIA) Act in J&K saying that the Bar will question whether the NIA Act can be extended to J&K. But regardless of its legal or constitutional limitations the agency has virtually been calling the shots on the ground in Kashmir. Over the recent couple of years dozens of prominent Hurriyat leaders, journalists, and businessmen were arrested by NIA on the pretext of concocted and fabricated cases. Shabir Ahmed Shah, one of the top rank Hurriyat leaders who has recently completed 31 years of incarceration (from time to time) has been booked in a decade old fabricated case is now languishing in Tihar jail along with other Kashmiri prisoners including Naeem Ahmed Khan, Shahidul Islam, Ayaz Akbar and prominent Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Wattali. Syed Sallahudin’s son Syed Shahid Yousuf, who was arrested by NIA last year is also lodged in the same jail. Now the so-called terror combating agency NIA has arrested the second son of Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin during a night raid at his residence in Rambagh area of Srinagar. Syed Shakeel Ahmad works as a lab technician at a Hospital in Srinagar. The abhorrent practice, which is a hallmark of Indian agencies is meant to terrorise the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders, their families and sympathizers and to care them into submission. The oppressive policies adopted by the government of India are obviously aimed at silencing the voice of dissent in Kashmir but New Delhi fails to recognise the fact that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Killing innocent people, caging Hurriyat leaders, harassing and humiliating their families won’t really change the situation in the region. It is time that New Delhi must shun this policy of terrorising people into silence and realise the bitter reality that it can not hold hostage Kashmiri nation at gunpoint for an indefinite period of time.

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