ISLAMABAD: In a move that openly violates the fundamental right to freedom of speech, political detainees in Kashmir, including top leaders, are being forced by the Indian government to sign a bond that will bar them from speaking or commenting on the Indian action of revoking Kashmir’s special status as a condition of their release, Kashmir Media Service reported.
Two women detainees who were released recently were required to sign a modified version of the standard ‘Section 107’ bond that is normally used in cases when a district magistrate uses his administrative powers under the Criminal Procedure Code to take someone into preventive custody.
Under the usual terms of the bond, potential troublemakers have to promise “not to commit a breach of the peace” or carry out any acts that “may probably occasion a breach of the peace”. Any violation of this promise will see the detainee forfeit an unspecified sum of money to the government.
The new bond, however, ups the ante in two aspects. Firstly, the signatories undertake to “not make any comments or issue statements or make public speeches or participate in public assemblies related to recent events in Jammu and Kashmir”. The reference to “recent events” likely signifies anything to do with Article 370 or the decision to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories and scrap Kashmir’s status as a state.
Secondly, they will have to deposit Rs10,000 as “surety” and undertake to pay another Rs40,000 as “surety” for any violation of the bond. A violation of this commitment will also likely lead to their renewed detention.
Legal experts and rights activists believe that these new conditions are problematic and unconstitutional. Human rights activist Khurram Parvez told the media that any releases were made under the conditions of the new bond.