Pota-wary Mufti May Not Exercise New Law In J&K
19 September 2004
The Times of India
New Delhi: The ordinance to repeal Pota and the proposed amendments to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are unlikely to impact on J&K as the state hardly utilised Pota, particularly after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over as chief minister. J&K's special status under Art 360 also makes a Central law applicable only after state government notifies it. This means that even after the President endorses the end of Pota and the law is replaced by the amended UAPA, the two ordinances will have no relevance for J&K which is bearing the brunt of terrorism. 'Pota was never an issue in J&K,' a political observer of the state said. He said the issue here has been the Public Safety Act (PSA) under which around 560 cases are registered. Compared to this only 20 persons have been detained under Pota. When Pota was promulgated by the NDA government, Farooq Abdullah was CM. The only prominent person to be arrested under Pota and then quickly released was JKLF chief Yasin Malik. One of the first case of arrest under Pota was that of an entire family in Srinagar. This had led to widespread protest, so much so that the state government had to release the family and seek people's apology. Barely six months later, Abdullah lost the assembly elections in October 2002. Although Pota had hardly been used in J&K, Mufti made good use of it during his campaigns, attacking Abdullah for using the Act. He promised never to apply it when he came to power. Considering his opposition to Pota, Mufti is unlikely to use UAPA either.