A tribunal constituted by the Union Home Ministry has confirmed the ban imposed on the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), headed by jailed separatist Shabir Ahmad Shah.

The Union Home Ministry had on October 5, 2023, declared the JKDFP a banned group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for five years for its “anti-India” and “pro-Pakistan” activities.

Subsequently, the tribunal was constituted with Delhi High Court judge Justice Sachin Datta as its head for the purpose of adjudicating whether or not there is sufficient cause for declaring the JKDFP an unlawful association.

In a recent notification, the home ministry said the tribunal in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 4 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 passed an order on April 3, 2024, confirming the declaration of JKDFP an unlawful organization.

In its order, the tribunal noted that the elaborate material and evidence placed on record before it found that there was ample justification to declare the JKDFP an unlawful association under the UAPA.

It said the activities of the JKDFP has had a deleterious effect on maintenance of law and order in the region of Jammu and Kashmir over the last several decades.

“The modicum of stability that has come about after 2019 (as is evident from the reduced number of unconducive incidents) could not have been allowed to be jeopardized on account of continuing activities of the concerned association,” it observed.

The tribunal noted that in the framework of the Indian constitution and the UAPA, there is no space for an association like the JKDFP which openly propagates secessionism, avowedly expresses dis-allegiance to the Constitution of India and undermines the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

“Thus, this tribunal having followed the procedure laid down in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and its Rules and having independently and objectively appreciated and evaluated the material and evidence on record, is of the firm and considered view that there is sufficient cause for declaring JKDFP as an unlawful association under Section 3(1) of the UAPA, 1967, vide the notification dated October 5, 2023,” it said.

Founded in 1998 by Shabir Ahmad Shah, a known separatist leader in Jammu and Kashmir, the JKDFP was a constituent of the separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference.

After the division of the Hurriyat Conference in 2003, the JKDFP became a part of the hardline faction headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani then.

Shabir Ahmad Shah is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on July 25, 2017, in a 2005 money laundering case. He has also been charge-sheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a terror-funding case.

In November last year, the ED had attached his Srinagar house in connection with its money laundering probe linked to a case of Fuelling terror activities in the Union territory.

While declaring JKDFP a banned organization, the home ministry had said Shah called Kashmir a “dispute” and ruled out any settlement within the framework of the Constitution of India and the members of his party have been at the forefront of secessionist activities with an intention to create a separate Islamic state. -(PTI)