On October 5 of 2022, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah visited Baramulla, Kashmir. In his speech, he said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not accept terrorism and will work to wipe it out from the valley. PM Modi has nearly rid Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism”. Whereas, April 2023 recorded the visit of Narendra Modi – the Prime Minister to the region where he stated that it is indeed a proud moment that democracy has reached the grassroots of Kashmir.

However, something different happened on the soil of Kashmir this year. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Rashmi Ranjan Swain said in a statement on June 23 that “those aiding terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir should be prosecuted by investigative agencies under the Enemy Agents Ordinance, 2005.”

It is noteworthy that this statement came when, just a few days after the elections, separatist activities were seen to be active in some areas of Jammu and Kashmir valley.

Swain further added, “The fighters can’t be brought under the realm of investigation, they should be shot dead. Those who support them, if we are talking of investigation there, I’ve said somewhere that they will be treated as enemy agents”.

What Is Enemy Agents Ordinance And How Does It Work?

The Jammu and Kashmir Enemy Agents Ordinance was first issued by the Dogra Maharaja in 1917. It provides for death penalty, life imprisonment, or 10 years imprisonment and a fine for those aiding the enemy. It was incorporated into state law after the 1947 partition and continued even after the repeal of Article 370 in 2019. However, the Ranbir Penal Code was replaced by the Indian Penal Code, and other Indian laws were also applied.

The trial under the ordinance is conducted by a special judge, appointed by the government in consultation with the High Court. The accused cannot engage a lawyer without permission and there is no provision for appeal. The decision of the special judge is final. Publication or disclosure of information under the ordinance is prohibited without the permission of the government and can lead to imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both.

Previously, many Kashmiris have faced trial under this ordinance. Maqbool Bhat, founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, was also charged under this ordinance and was hanged in Tihar Jail in 1984.

There have been changes in the legal framework of Jammu and Kashmir from time to time, but stringent laws like the Enemy Agents Ordinance and the Public Safety Act are still in force. The government often implies that the purpose of these laws is to maintain peace and security in the state, but there have been controversies from time to time regarding their strictness and harshness.

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