SRINAGAR: Family of an activist of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani have alleged that the resistance group cold shouldered them when they sought legal help for his release.
Shabnum Bashir, daughter of the Bashir Sofi, who was arrested on October 25 and subsequently booked under Public Safety Act, told Kashmir Reader that she had called on the Hurriyat (G)’s office telephone to seek a lawyer for her father.
“The person on the phone told me that Hurriyat cannot do anything,” Shabnum said.
For a month after his arrest, Bashir had no legal aid. It was only after the Kashmir Bar Association visited Kot Balwal Jail that they extended legal help to him, and filed a case in the High Court challenging his grounds of detention.
Incarcerated Bashir is a staunch activist and supporter of Geelani led Hurriyat.
After the family heard about his arrest, Shabnum, a student of Govt Degree College Baramulla, says she fell into depression and missed her academic year.
“The falling health took toll on my studies. I missed the year. In absence of my papa, I had to shoulder the responsibilities of home, health, studies and fight for my papa’s release. It was not easy for me as I was for the first time in life exposed to such situation,” Shabnum said.
Since Bashir’s arrest, Shabnum said, the family has not been able to visit him. Bashir is diabetic and hypertensive and needs constant medicine and medical checkups.
“Because I had fallen ill and could not go to see my dad, I had called Hurriyat to see my papa, and arrange a lawyer for him,” she said.
Bashir had abandoned home for around a month to evade his arrest. However, on October 25, police arrested him from Bijbehara in south Kashmir along with three other colleagues.
In one of its raids, Shabnum said, Police left their home vandalised.
Hurriyat Spokesperson Ayaz Akbar told Kashmir Reader that ‘It could have happened because the office was fully disturbed that time.”
“Bashir was with me in the jail. He is alright. The fact is that such incidents happen rarely. The Hurriyat has its own legal cell that takes up the cases of all its activists. Bashir’s case was taken too, but because of the court vacations, his process was delayed,” Ayaz said.
Meanwhile, Shabnum and her mother are still waiting for Bashir’s release.