By Nusrat Sidiq
Srinagar: Sarfaraz Ahmed Sheikh, a 24-year-old resident of Nowhatta area in Srinagar, has been detained at police station Nowhatta since January 17, the day when the High Court quashed the detention order under Public Safety Act (PSA) against him. Chief Minister Mehbboba Mufti had made a statement in the legislative assembly a few days ago that persons whose PSA detention orders have been quashed by the court will not be held in police custody.
Sarfaraz, a commerce graduate who comes from a respectable business family, has been detained twice under PSA in the past five years and has 14 FIRs registered against him at Nowhatta police station. The FIRs have charged him with various crimes, such as stone-pelting, arson, attempt to murder, instigating a mob, and disturbing public order.
When contacted, Mudasir Ahmed, station house officer (SHO) of Nowhatta Police Station, said, “Yes, Sarfaraz was re-arrested because there are other cases pending against him. Unless there are orders to that effect, we cannot release him.”
Sarfaraz readily admitted that he has been throwing stones at government forces since 2007. He said he lost one eye during the 2010 unrest, but still he will continue to fight the oppression of government forces.
“Like every child I had a dream. I wanted to become an engineer but this dream lasted only till it confronted the reality of torture, oppression, rapes and killings done by Indian forces while the puppet state governments watched. Words like Azadi and Hartal were unknown to me, I never thought of becoming a stone-pelter, but the year 2008 changed it all,” Sarfaraz said when asked about his story.
“In the summer of 2007, I was passing by Nowhatta when I saw a procession of young boys raising slogans and pelting government forces with stones. I was afraid to go there but something changed my mind. I began to be a part of processions but didn’t dare throw stones. In the year 2008, during the Amarnath land row, I began to throw stones without any fear. I saw that now teargas shells were not being fired but bullets, directly at people. I saw many boys being hit by bullets and dying on the spot. I wanted to take revenge. Stones were the only weapons I had. Stone-pelting for me has become a means of protest against the atrocities and the illegal occupation of India,” Sarfaraz said.
“During the 2009 protests against the Shopian double rape and murder, I was pained to see how the system works in Kashmir. At that time Chief Minister Omar Abdullah promised to bring culprits in front of people and punish them in 24 hours, but it was a lie. It made me more aggressive. I wanted to punish the culprits myself,” Sarfaraz said.
“In 2010, I came close to death. Wamiq Farooq of Rainawari, a 13-year-old, was killed. At Nowhatta, I was shot at by pellets in my right eye and my left hand was injured badly. I didn’t know who took me to hospital. After a few weeks, I began to recover but my eye was badly damaged. My family took me to New Delhi and I was operated on at Shroff’s Eye Centre. But I still was unable to see with my right eye. It created a psychological problem. I became silent, I began feeling isolated. Then, after two years, I again started throwing stones, this time for myself, for my identity,” Sarfaraz said.
“In 2016, I threw stones because I could not stop myself from doing it. The stones were thrown against all the atrocities that Indian soldiers are committing in Jammu and Kashmir. This will continue till the freedom of Kashmir is achieved,” the young man said.