New anti-terrorism body State Investigation Agency formed in J&K

One more assault on democratic rights and civil liberties of citizens, says Gupkar alliance

Updated - November 02, 2021 09:10 pm IST

Published - November 02, 2021 11:26 am IST - SRINAGAR:

Family members of Deepak Chand, a school teacher who was killed by terrorists in Kashmir, mourn in Jammu, India, Friday, Oct.8, 2021.

Family members of Deepak Chand, a school teacher who was killed by terrorists in Kashmir, mourn in Jammu, India, Friday, Oct.8, 2021.

The J&K Government has set up a new State Investigation Agency (SIA) for “speedy and effective investigation and prosecution of militancy-related cases in the Union Territory”. However, the Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration, an amalgam of regional parties, has expressed concern over its formation.

The SIA will be a nodal agency for coordinating with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other Central agencies “to take measures as may be necessary for speedy and effective investigation and prosecution of militancy-related cases”, a Government order said on Monday.

The head of the CID wing shall be the ex-officio Director of the SIA.

Also read: J&K recent attacks reveal terror outfits’ new strategy

“All the officers in-charge of the police stations shall mandatorily intimate the SIA immediately upon registration of militancy-related cases, including those specified in the order, and also about such cases where any militancy linkage surfaces during the investigation,” the order said.

It directed that all the officers in-charge of the police stations shall mandatorily intimate the SIA immediately upon registration of militancy-related cases.

“Wherever, upon intimation of the National Investigation Act, 2008, the investigation is not taken up by the NIA, the DGP, J&K shall, having regard to the gravity of the offence, progress of investigation and other relevant factors, determine in consultation with the SIA whether the case is fit to be investigated by SIA & transfer the investigation of such case at any point of time during its investigation.

"However, if there is difference of opinion, the DGP shall take a decision while recording the reasons in writing,” it reads.

The SIA has been empowered to register an FIR, suo motu , while keeping the DGP, J&K, informed. It will also be the agency for investigation and trial of offences in cases “which are transferred to the State Government in terms of Section 7 of the National Investigation Act, 2008”.

The fresh move comes as J&K sees no let-up in militancy and attacks. October saw 41 killings in militancy-related incidents, including 20 militants, nine soldiers and 12 civilians.

The Government move has come under criticism from the Gupkar alliance, a conglomerate of regional parties including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

‘Agency with unbridled powers’

“The decision to create the SIA by all counts is only aimed to strengthen the repressive apparatus in this region. The formation of one more agency empowered with unbridled powers is one more assault on democratic rights and civil liberties of citizens,” alliance spokesman and CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said.

 Editorial on J&K civilian deaths: Tackling terror

He said in the name of fighting terrorism these agencies and laws are being weaponised against the citizens who hold a different viewpoint from the Government. “What is the need to add one more such agency? Already, the NIA and the UAPA have created havoc among the people by gross misuse of these draconian measures. J&K is a political issue and needs a political outreach,” he said.

The alliance has warned that “such harsh measures are bound to deepen alienation”.

"The Gupkar alliance had opposed all such laws in the past and will do so in future as well. Even eminent jurists in the country have expressed resentment over the draconian laws being passed by the Government in the name of fighting terrorism. These laws can be wielded as a weapon against opponents. The fight to defend democracy must encompass the struggle to get rid of these draconian laws,” Mr. Tarigami said.

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