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JEHANGIR ALI | 3 SEPTEMBER, 2015

NIA Proposal To Set Up Office In J&K Creates A Stir

National Investigation Agency


SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency's proposal to set up a permanent office in Jammu and Kashmir has come under the scanner of separatist leaders, who dub the move as a "violation" of the state's special status under the Indian Constitution.

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat has threatened to launch a public agitation against the proposal reportedly sent by the NIA to the Union Home Ministry. “It is a clear violation of the special status (of J&K under Indian Constitution) and the constitution of the state," Geelani said in a statement.

He said if the government allows the NIA to set up of a permanent office in J&K, the move will be "resisted tooth and nail", "We will launch a public agitation against any such move,” he said.

The controversy erupted against the backdrop of reports that the NIA has set up four temporary camps in Srinagar, Islamabad, Jammu and Udhampur regions, following the recent attacks involving suspected Pakistani nationals, in the state.

The NIA already has its branches in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. In a proposal submitted to the home ministry recently, the agency argued that the office in J&K will help in "effective monitoring" of terror cases taking place in northern India.

The NIA was constituted under National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, following the Mumbai attacks, to investigate cases "affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States" and offences under other acts.

Legal experts argue that the act, while it may be applicable to "whole of India", doesn't mean that it has legal sanctity in the state of J&K, which has its own unique constitution.

"That the law has not been challenged doesn't give legal sanctity to the agency to operate in J&K. This opinion among political leaders (that the law can't apply to the state) needs to be examined and challenged in the judiciary," a Srinagar-based constitutional expert, wishing anonymity, said.

Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam, political advisor to moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said the move will be "another first" under the tenure of the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

"This is one of the many first in the political life of Mufti saheb," Islam said. "Draconian laws like AFSPA was extended to J&K under his tenure as the home minister. It is obvious that the chief minister wants more strict laws from the Centre to be implemented here."

Questioning the legal sanctity of the move, Islam said the state of Jammu and Kashmir has its own constitution and the agencies formed under central laws have no legal standing in the state.

"Our constitution is clear on this," Islam said. "Any agency formed under central laws can't operate in J&K. People are going to resent this another suffering inflicted on them by India and her puppet government in J&K".

Echoing his views, Geelani's spokesperson, Ayaz Akbar said Jammu & Kashmir is an "internationally acknowledged disputed territory" and the state can't fall into the ambit of any central agency.

"Jammu & Kashmir has its own constitution other than India. That constitution does not allow that in presence of state police and other investigation agencies the NIA will intervene here and register cases against the citizen of Jammu & Kashmir in any state of India,” Akbar said.

Hitting out at the chief minister for his "complicity" in allowing the NIA to enter the state, he said the state government, instead of preventing the violation of the state's constitution, is “co-operating in these illegal activities”.

“This is criminal attitude of the state administration and it amounts to the violation of the Ranbir Panel Code (RPC),” the octogenarian leader said in the statement.

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