June 2021 News

'Unbridled' Bureaucratic Powers: Omar Abdullah On Kashmir Activist's Arrest

15 June 2021

Srinagar: National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said the arrest of a Kashmiri political activist over his remarks that he has more expectations from local officials rather than those from outside is the result of 'unbridled' bureaucratic powers. It's unacceptable that a person should be jailed for expressing a 'totally harmless' opinion, Abdullah said. Fifty-year-old Sajad Rashi Sofi of Safapora in Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal district was arrested after he told LG advisor Baseer Khan at Mansbal at a 'Janta Darbar' on June 10 that he can understand the issues of people of the area better as compared to officers from outside the union territory because he is a local. Sofi's remarks did not go down well with Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner Krittika Jyotsna, who is an IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh. According to the police report, she stood up from her seat and 'strongly objected' to Sofi's comments. Sofi was summoned and booked by the police under Section 153 (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the same night. In a tweet, Abdullah said, 'I haven't come across a worse reason to detain a person & I was detained for encouraging people to vote so that's saying something. It's unacceptable that a person should be jailed for expressing a totally harmless opinion. This is what happens when bureaucratic power is unbridled.' Sofi was granted bail by a local court here on Saturday. However, even after this, police did not release Sofi and instead booked him under Section 107 of the IPC which entitles them to keep a person under 'preventive custody' for being a 'threat to peace'. CPI(M) and Peoples Conference have also criticised Sofi's arrest and sought Lt Governor Manoj Sinha's intervention in the matter.