The joint separatist leadership on Saturday called as “outrageous” and “dictatorial” the government’s ordinance that make persons and organisations calling for shutdowns, demonstrations or other forms of protest wherein properties are damaged, liable for imprisonment and fine.
Governor NN Vohra, on recommendations of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, promulgated “The Jammu and Kashmir Public Property (Prevention of Damage) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017” on Thursday, leading to what the government called “amendment in the existing law relating to damage to public property to more effectively discourage and prevent the deleterious activities of individuals and organisations which result in damage to public and private properties.”
The joint leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik condemned and “ridiculed” the “outrageous and dictatorial” ordinance, saying: “Observing shutdown is a universally-accepted democratic and peaceful right of protest and resistance, and fixing a punishment for it reflects the totalitarian and repressive mindset of the anti-people ruling regime.”
The leadership said that the tall claims of “healing touch” and “battle of ideas” by Mehbooba Mufti and her PDP before coming to power have “all come to naught and instead she, with her partner BJP, has broken all records of committing atrocities and inflicting miseries upon the people of Kashmir.”
“During her regime, killing and blinding of people, imprisonment and detention of masses and leadership, arson, vandalism of people’s properties, harassment, propaganda onslaught and other forms of repression have touched a new low. On the other hand, she along with her coterie of opportunists has further eroded whatever was left of the safeguards of the people of the state by eroding its economic autonomy through implementation of GST (Goods and Services Tax),” the joint leadership said.
“As her tenure progresses, so do her compromises with the interests of the people of Kashmir who are under assault from all sides. The situation has come to such a pass now that even the basic right to protest through shutdowns against these moves and constant assault is now being denied and made punishable,” the leaders said.
Issuing the ordinance that calls for imprisonment for shutdowns is aimed to “instill fear of retribution and punishment among the resistance leadership and people of Kashmir to discourage them from raising their voice against oppression and for demanding their right to self-determination,” the leadership said, adding: “But like all such previous repressive measures, it is bound to fail.”
The joint leadership said that shutdown is an “accepted and acknowledged way of resisting oppression and injustice across the world and it should stand clear that resistance leadership will continue with this right no matter how much government would try to choke our voice.”
The government on Thursday said that the ordinance has been enacted to “make mischief to public and private property due to direct action punishable, and, make any person calling for direct action liable for abetment of such offence.”
“Consequently, whoever announces direct action in the form of strikes, demonstrations, or other public forms of protests which result in damage to public as well as private property can be punished with imprisonment for a period of two to five years and can be imposed a fine equivalent to the market value of the property damaged or destroyed,” the government had said.