SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

The regional High Court of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday upheld the detention of the Kashmir Bar Association chief.

The ruling on a plea for Mian Abdul Qayoom’s release was announced in a 57-page judgment which held that authorities had shown due diligence in the arrest since initial police reports, known as first information reports [FIRs] suggested a “continued propensity” by Qayoom to act on “secessionist ideologies” and a chain of related activities.

The appeal had said that the terms on which Qayoom had been arrested were vague and indefinite. However, the court rejected this, holding that the grounds of detention were proximate.

“We have gone through intelligence reports which contain materials after 2010 depicting the activities of the detenue [detainee] on the basis of which as well the detaining authority has shown to have arrived at his satisfaction reflected in the detention order. These reports could be well said to constitute new facts,” the bench said.

The court allowed Qayoom — who had been arrested under the country’s Public Safety Act that allowed for preventative arrest — to file a representation before law enforcement stating that he renounced such ideologies.

“An ideology of the nature reflected in the FIRs and alleged against the detenue (Qayoom) is like a live volcano,” the ruling said.

It cited reports that Qayoom while serving as bar president had knowingly taken part in acts that indicated continued “ideology” including raising provocative slogans and holding closed-door meetings with separatist leaders.

Qayoom, 73, was arrested on Aug. 4 last year in a massive crackdown in which thousands of people were reportedly detained in the run-up to stripping Jammu and Kashmir of statehood and semi-autonomous status on Aug. 5.

His nephew, Mian Muzaffar told Anadolu Agency that the family had not seen Qayoom for the last three months due to the visitation restrictions imposed by the government due to the novel coronavirus.

“We aren’t aware of his current condition. He’s an old man of 73 years of age, living with one kidney and life-threatening ailments. He is on medication and is frail. For the last ten months, he’s gone through tremendous suffering and anxiety on merely the apprehension that he would disrupt public order despite the fact that he is not a criminal but a well-reputed lawyer who has rendered his services for last 40 years,” Muzaffar said.

Qayoom was detained in a jail in India’s Uttar Pradesh province from where he was transferred to Tihar jail in New Delhi following the deterioration in his health.

The Aug. 5 move by India was backed by boosting troop levels in an already heavily militarized region, imposing curfews and cutting communication lines.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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