IN THE first such decision, the Jammu and Kashmir government has accorded sanction for prosecution of nine people charged with raising an Islamic State (IS) flag in Srinagar two years ago. The nine have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA.
“The government is of the view that there is sufficient material and evidence available against the accused persons for their prosecution,” states a notification issued by the state’s Principal Secretary (Home), R K Goyal.
On October 17, 2014, a few unidentified youths had raised the black flag of the IS at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid after the Friday prayers. The police registered a case and said that their investigations revealed that nine Srinagar residents were involved in the incident.
The police had booked the youths under UAPA Section 13 (punishment for taking part in or committing, advocating, abetting, inciting or assisting in any unlawful activity), which makes state government’s sanction mandatory for prosecution. While the state Home Secretary until recently issued such sanctions, under new rules the power lies with the Chief Minister.
Stating that the police have established a prima facie case against the accused, the gazette notification states, “The appointed authority by the state government has independently scrutinised the case diary and documents relevant to the case and has come to a conclusion that this is a fit case for accord of prosecution sanction against the accused persons.”
Police officials said the nine people to be prosecuted are not “motivated” by IS ideology, and had raised the flags only to “hurt” the Central government and “garner international attention” towards Kashmir.
While the IS has no presence in the Valley, a Srinagar youth, who was working in Australia, had reportedly joined the terror outfit in Syria two years ago. In the last two years, IS flags have been raised on several occasions in different areas, most such incidents coming after Friday prayers.