WRITTEN BY: Ashly Bloxon
TAMMU AND KASHMIR, India.– On January 28, 19-year-old Zaffar Shafi Hakeem was arrested by police in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir. His family members were not informed of the arrest.
The authorities accused Zaffar of organizing separatist demonstrations, stating ”You have got separatist allegations and are organizing campaigns on regular basis… aimed at motivating the people to hold demonstrations against the Government”.
The police insist that Zaffar Shafi Hakeem led two demonstrations, one in October 2009 and the other in July 2010. During the protests demonstrators allegedly pelted police and security personnel with stones, injuring them and damaging vehicles. It is unclear as to why the police did not arrest Zaffar for nearly 6 months.
Initially, Zaffar Shafi Hakeem was arrested on criminal charges of rioting and assault. A court ruled that he be released on bail on February 3, however the State authorities had already detained him in administrative detention, without charge or trial on January 29.
At no point were his family members given an explanation for his detention.
Zaffar Shafi Hakeem is detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act. The law explicitly allows state authorities to detain individuals for up to two years without any judicial review of the allegations against them. Under this provision repeat detentions are a common occurrence.
Up to 322 people are reported to have been detained without trial under the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir from January to September 2010 alone.
Zaffar Shafi Hakeem is the cousin of 14-year-old Faizan Rafiq Hakeem who was held in administrative detention for 6 weeks, released only after intervention by Amnesty International.
Zaffar Shafi Hakeem is being held at Kathua District Jail, to date countless claims of violations of prisoners’ human rights have been documented on the practices of this jail.