While dealing with the problem of militancy, the law enforcing agencies need to uphold the principle of substantive justice.
Over time, Jammu and Kashmir Police have detained hundreds of youngsters and produced them in courts. The charge against these youth was that they were acting as OGWs of various terrorist organizations. How was the involvement of these youth in subversive activities established? If there was anything in black and white against them in police records, they were deemed to be involved. The police officers at the SHO level and below roughed up hundreds of youngsters across Kashmir valley merely because these youth were directly or indirectly involved in subversive activities in distant past.
Sources reveal that the majority of those picked up by the police and subsequently booked under UAPA were not even remotely part of the online syndicate of OGWs.The truth must be told, no matter how inconvenient it is. The police officers, under pressure from their seniors, make random arrests either for extortion or for scoring points. Most of the police officers at the lower level are clueless about the new breed of OGWs. As and when there is an incident, they feel the heat after the senior officers demand quick action. Hence random arrests. There are hundreds of cases where arrests were made merely on the basis of suspicion, without any concrete evidence.
In a village in south Kashmir, three youngsters were picked up for questioning on the suspicion of being OGWs for a dreaded terrorist. The trio had been questioned many times in the past. They remained in police custody for more than a month. During the same period, two minors from the same village went missing and subsequently joined militant ranks.
Many of those who have been arrested and could not give money to secure their release were booked under UAPA. The Superintendent of Police (SPs) of the respective districts also share the blame. They attested the dossiers prepared against each detainee and forwarded it to the respective district magistrates for approval without close scrutiny. Similarly, the district magistrates did not bother to read the dossiers carefully or pose questions to the police officers before signing it. We are yet to come across any case where a Deputy Commissioner has put his foot down and returned the dossier for further clarification. Such casual attitude towards detention of youth has drastic consequences. The doctrine of Iron Fist and Velvet Glove is the fundamental principle for eliminating militancy.