Friday, December 8, 2023

“All lies,” says family of Kashmiri teenager held by NIA

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Photo: Mehran Bhat

On 1 January, Feroz Ahmad Ahanger, father of 19- years-old Arsalan Feroz, collapsed outside Srinagar’s press colony while demanding the release of his son arrested by the National Investigation Agency.

“Burn me here, I won’t return to my home till my son gets released,” says the grief-stricken father.

Ahanger has already had a stroke after the news splashed on social about the arrest of his son on the charges of recruiting youths into terror camps last month.

“They searched our house for several hours and found no evidence against him but later we were asked to produce Arsalan in the police station,” he told Maktoob.

On 30 December, NIA carried out a search at  Arsalan Feroz’s residence in Srinagar’s Zaldagar area and later detained him. 

In their press release, NIA said that one of The Resistance Front operative Arsalan Feroz was arrested on charges of radicalising, motivating, and recruiting youth of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by Lashkari Toiba (LET). 

“Yesterday, (30.12.2021), NIA conducted a search in Srinagar and arrested 01 TRF operative, Arsalan Feroz son of Feroz Ahmad Ahangar, resident of Zaldagar, MR Gunj, Srinagar in case No. RV 32/2021/NIA/DLI,” read the statement. 

It further states that the case relates to a conspiracy hatched for radicalising, motivating and recruiting youth of J&K to effect violent activities.

“Search conducted yesterday led to the recovery of several incriminating documents and digital devices, investigation in the case continues,” The NIA’s statement claims.

Arsalan’s family refute the claims and said that he was detained in October last year for 40 days and released after “clearing all charges.” 

During the detention, he missed his 12th standard annual exams. 

The family contest NIA’s version and insist that he has nothing to do with militant activities.

Photo: Mehran Bhat

The former Chief Minister of erstwhile State Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Mehbooba Mufti wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking him to “serve justice”.

The letter stated that the former chief minister said the arrest of Arsalan Feroz by the NIA was odd as the teenager was earlier released by the Jammu and Kashmir Police after “they could not find anything adverse against him” while he was in custody for 40 days.

“In your last trip to Kashmir, you spoke emphatically about engaging with the youth here. Despite our political differences, I am sure we can agree that such incidents will only alienate our young generation further and leave them with permanent scars and a sense of despondency for a long time. I request you to personally intervene in this case and ensure that justice is served,” read Mehbooba Mufti’s letter.

The protesting family claims that there has been no prior police case registered against him.

Sehrish Feroz, Arsalan’s sister, is worried about her parents’ condition, worsening day by day.

“How can a teenager be involved in militant activities after the authorities have already released him 40 days long detention in November?” they questioned.

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Irshad Hussain
Irshad Hussain
Irshad Hussain is an independent journalist in Kashmir.

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