Most people who are being detained in Jammu and Kashmir are being released under community bonds, and the number of people who have stayed in detention is not too high, the state police chief has claimed. In an interview to The Indian Express, Dilbagh Singh said the police has “just a few hundred” persons detained with them five weeks after the state lost its constitutional autonomy.
Not more than 35 political leaders were under detention, Singh said. “With them, there was a concern that they might provoke people,” he said. “So the administration decided that they should be restrained and it is for their security as well. If you can save lives with some restrictions, what is more advisable? People say life with liberty but I say life first and then liberty.”
Asked about the detentions, Singh said the figures were not specific and they change every day. “Only thing is that our detention rate is much lesser compared to our pick-up rate,” he said. “If we pick up five, we keep only one and the rest are released under community bonds. We have just a few hundred with us.”
The director general of police added: “In some 300 cases, we have used community bonds to pick up and then release stone-pelters in Srinagar alone. And if 10 people come to seek release of 10 people per case, we have successfully engaged 3,000 people. They are released the same day.”
Jammu and Kashmir was put under prohibitory orders and an unprecedented communications blackout on August 4 as the government prepared to announce the revocation of the region’s autonomy. Prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually but the communications blockade remains in most parts. Some protests have been reported in the region after the decision.
Dilbagh Singh told The Indian Express that the number of active militants in Kashmir currently was not very high – about 150 in South Kashmir and 250 or so overall – but their movement had been notable.
He said police was tough on militancy but was also trying to hand some militants over to their families. “We have excellent rapport with the people [which] I’m very proud of,” Singh said. “There are times we don’t even book cases. In the last six or seven months, we returned 16 boys back to their families. A girl had run away from home in Tral to join militancy, we brought her back in 48 hours, we counselled her.”
Singh said chanting slogans was a “pastime” and not always an expression of anger in Kashmir. “In certain incidents, there is no violence or FIR,” he said. “There is some venting of anger, that doesn’t come into cognizable offence,” he said. “Why should I record it and spoil the career of that boy? When they cross a level, there is violence, stone pelting or someone is injured, there is a report.”
The restrictions imposed in Kashmir since last month look “very harsh” but were useful in maintaining law and order and were “perhaps the only option”, Dilbagh Singh told The Indian Express. He claimed that areas known to be the most volatile had been the most peaceful in these five weeks.
Singh claimed that not a single bullet had been fired anywhere during this period. Militants were trying to pressurise people not to carry out trade but people were resisting it strongly, he said. Singh added militants were concerned about “how to tell the world that Kashmir is at a standstill”.
Singh said the situation had been “by and large peaceful, barring some minor incidents at different places”. Restrictions have been revoked from areas under 92 police stations and only 13 police station areas were left, he said.
Singh admitted that the police were finding some difficulties in gathering information as the phones of their sources were not functional. “To some extent, yes,” Singh said, when asked whether the communication lockdown had affected police work. “Information is a little delayed but it is reaching us.”
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