November 2019 News

Kin Of Jammu And Kashmir Political Detainees Stage Protest

20 November 2019
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Several relatives of high-profile political detainees from regional parties on Wednesday held a protest against the alleged 'maltreatment' of their leaders and 'harassment' of their family members during scheduled meetings in Srinagar, just a day after two senior leaders from the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party refused to sign a bond in lieu of their release. The protest was held by relatives who were allowed to meet 32 detained political leaders, comprising former legislators and ministers of the NC, PDP and Peoples Conference. They met them at the new detention centre in the MLA Hostel in Srinagar. The families alleged that the prisoners were being 'deliberately' maltreated. 'Rooms are in such unhygienic conditions that there is no suitable place to offer prayers. The common washroom is unbearably stinky and untidy. It seems they are being subjected to inhuman conditions,' senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar's daughter Sheryaar Khanam told The Hindu. 'We are not demanding their release but just seeking rightful basic facilities, including proper heating and clean washrooms. We fear approaching the courts as Farooq Abdullah [NC president] is an example before us. He was booked under the Public Safety Act immediately after his case went to the court,' Ms. Khanam added. Several relatives, after the scheduled meeting with the leaders between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., alleged harassment of families of the leaders. Former legislator and ex-Education Minister Mr. Akhtar's wife was asked to remove shoes, socks, head scarfs, shawl and hairpins, before she was allowed to enter the sub-jail premises. 'Female relatives are humiliated and harassed as if we are carrying bombs. We are asked to arrange warm furnishing for the jail room on our own. One day home-made food is allowed and the next day it is turned away by the security forces. This is how serving and elected Deputy Mayor of Srinagar is treated. He should have been out and serving the people. What is his sin? I regret that he decided to contest the urban local bodies election last year,' Srinagar Municipal Corporation Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran's cousin told The Hindu. Mr. Imran had recently joined Sajjad Lone's Peoples Conference. Meanwhile, Mr. Lone, former ally of the BJP, was allegedly put up in a shabby accommodation after the recent scuffle with the security forces inside the sub-jail. But he has now been shifted to better accommodation after repeated protests, sources said. Several relatives also alleged that the MLA Hostel building was subjected to frequent electricity cuts despite the cold weather. A mobile phone jammer installed is also generating 'annoying noise'. 'My father-in-law is not able to sleep in the night due to the noise of the jammer,' said daughter-in-law of the senior National Conference leader. 'Is this the face of democracy? Are they being punished for participating in the polls in the past?' she added. Sources said the government on Tuesday sent a senior official to two top leaders, PDP's Akhtar aged 67, and NC's Ali Muhmmad Sagar, 72, and demanded them to sign a bond for their release, sources said. The written bond barred them from issuing any statement after their release, especially on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 and Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Both the ailing and ageing leaders refused to sign the bond, sources added. 'The bond is not aimed at maintaining the law and order but only to discredit the local leaderships in front of the eyes of the people of Kashmir. The bond is used in public discourses and leaked to the media to malign the image of the local leadership and dent their credibility,' said a close relative of Mr. Sagar, whose son Salman Sagar has been detained since August 5. Sources said J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal, also an ex-IAS topper, has reportedly tore the bond and refused to sign it.