Saturday, April 20, 2024

Kashmir: Three Gujjar men booked under PSA, families in limbo

Families members of Gujjar men protesting outside press colony, Srinagar. Photo: Peerzada Tahir 

In Gabpathri, a hamlet with Gujjar settlements in the thick forests and jagged mountains of Bandipora, Kashmir, the villagers are in shock after three men among them were arrested for allegedly being an Over Ground Worker of The Resistance Front, a militant outfit.

The detention of Abdul Bari (50), Muhammad Suliman Gujjar (50) and Muhammad Armeen Gujjar (45) has left the whole village in a state of limbo. The men are lodged in Jammu central jail under Public Safety Act.

“Most people here deal with livestock and have never found anything suspicious about them. Calling someone to police station than booking them under PSA is something I am hearing the first time,” said Muhammad latief one of the locals. 

Sakeena, wife of Abdul Bari sits in her single storey mud house grappling with her dark world for the past two months, a black hijab loosely wrapped around her head.

“Everything is gone. I am worried about the future of my kids. Where do I go? What do I do? Nobody took the notice of the issue. It is deliberate and orchestrated to defame my husband. They locked my husband based on the coerced confession and untrustworthy witnesses,” Sakeena told Maktoob.

Septuagenarian Fatima Begum, the mother of Armeen Gujjar, believes her son has been booked under a planned conspiracy.  

Fatima said her son is innocent.

“My son doesn’t have a smartphone. How can he be a militant sympathizer?“

“I can’t even believe that we are being victimized. Where we will go in these harsh winters? We are poor people,” she said.

Photo: Sajid Raina

On October 8, the men were summoned to Sumlar police station and later shifted to a camp of special operation group of Jammu and Kashmir police. Subsequently, they were sent to subsidiary jail.

Family members of Suliman are completely in disbelief over the sudden turn of events and are moving from pillar to post in search of justice for the only bread earner in the family of seven.

“We came to know from a relative that my husband and other two people from our village have been charged under PSA. The moment I heard about the charge, I became numb. Sometimes I think death might actually be less painful,” says Parveena, Suliman’s wife.

“It’s a different kind of hurt when you are being punished for the crime you never did. My husband is in jail, for what? Where will I  go? Who will feed my kids,” she asks.

“We have filed the petition regarding the case in Jammu and Kashmir High Court. It will take time because of winter vacation,” says Shafiq Bhat, advocate at Bandipora District Court.

A person booked under PSA can be detained for a year without any trial.

When contacted, Senior Superintendent of Police, Bandipora, Zahid Malik, said, whosoever in Kashmir gets detained, later claims to be innocent.

“I cannot say anything further on it,” he told Maktoob.

In the three dossiers prepared by police and signed by the District Magistrate of Bandipora, the charges levelled against them are similar.

As per dossiers, all three detainees have been accused of being affiliated with the TRF, which is considered as an off-shoot of the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba by security agencies.

Interestingly, the dossier is not based on any First Information Report registered against them. The document only states that they have been previously detained under section 107(security for keeping the peace in other cases) and 151(arrest to prevent the commission of the cognizable offence) CrPc.

“That you have been previously detained under section 107 and 105 CrPr, however, it has not deterred you from propagating terrorism/secessionism. You are running an incessant campaign to further anti-India sentiments directed at destabilizing the machinery of the UT and hell-bent to create a conducive atmosphere for terrorists particularly TRF for carrying out activities prejudicial to maintenance of the security of the state,” dossiers read

The families blame that the charged labelled against them is fabricated and baseless because the trio was never detained arrested before October 8 and none of them even use smartphones.

“How can you label an illiterate person with such a grand accusation, who doesn’t know how to operate the smartphone? It’s totally baseless. We appeal to the Lieutenant Governor to take the matter into his consideration and provide justice to us. As we are poor people. We don’t have any source of income except menial jobs,” said one of the family members.

Malik Nisar
Malik Nisar
Malik Nisar is an independent journalist based in Kashmir.
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