Engineering student languishing in Jail under PSA
Bandipora: Zubair Ahmad Wani, 23, an engineering student from northern Kashmir’s Bandipora district, had dreams of going to Dubai to earn and support his family.
He may still have those dreams, but for now he is languishing in Kot-Balwal jail, detained under the draconian Public Safety Act since October for taking part in the 2016 protests. In January, authorities extended his PSA, killing his hopes for an early release.
His family denies the charges against him that range from rioting to attempt to murder.
“He dreamed of going to Dubai and earn for his family, but before his dreams could have turned into reality, the government ruined his career, now there is nothing left, he may even join militancy, and this is how the government is keeping the pot of conflict boiling in Kashmir,” Zubair’s sister Nighat said.
A 4th-semester student of Electric Engineering at KITE polytechnic college in Rangreth, Srinagar, Zubair
had earlier completed certificate courses from Industrial Training Institute and NCPUL.
Son of a poor labourer, Zubair used to repair electronic items, at home, to pay for his fee, his family said.
“Given his knowledge and liking for the profession, he was even offered a job at the institute (ITI), but he dreamed big,” his father Nazir Ahmad. And for his dreams, the family sold a piece of land to pay for his college admissions.
“He wanted to earn so to ease my life, as I was getting too old for labour,” Nazir said.
In the first month of uprising followed by the killing of HIzb commander Burhan Wani, Zubair was stuck in Srinagar. But just after a month of reaching home, “he was declared a criminal by the authorities”, says Nighat.
In the midnight of October 9, the family was awakened by huddling of jackboots at their home in Qazipora.
In a while, the door was slammed open and Zubair was picked up from his bed.
“It seemed as if they had come to arrest a militant, so many troops were yelling at us and breaking and kicking everything which came in their way,” Zubair’s mother, Gulshan said, while breaking into sobs.
Fourteen criminal cases have been registered against him, ranging from rioting to attempt to murder. His PSA was extended on 30 January.
Nusrat says that even though everyone was involved in protests in 2016, Zubair was made a scapegoat. His uncle, an estranged PDP worker, cites his tiff with the ruling party workers as a possible reason for Zubair’s arrest.
Nusrat, however, says that she sought every possible help, pleaded in front of authorities and politicians to forgive his brother “for he was a first timer and deserved a chance”.
“Even if he pelted stones, they treated him like a big terrorist. The government must understand that they are destroying the youth,” Nusrat’s said as she her voice choked sobbing.
“Will his dream of going to Dubai ever come true? Why didn’t the authorities kill him instead of ruining his career and crushing his dreams?”
The PSA dossier against Zubair describes him as a stigma for peace loving citizens in the area with allegations of instigating/leading “unlawful processions which were organized and mobilized by you and your associates with the intention to kill the Police/ Security personnel deployed for the maintenance of law and order”
The grounds of detention mention two incidents specific instances, where Owais is alleged to have instigated and lead a “violent procession”.
“On 20-07-2016 you along with associates instigated and lead a violent procession, taken out by the youth of Kaloosa, Bandipora, equipped with lathies and pelted stones upon police/security forces deployed for maintenance of law and order in Kaloosa, Bandipora and to make successful Bandh/Protest call given by separatists. The mob was warned to disperse, but they didn’t and were regularly pelting stones upon police/security forces, resulting in some serious injuries to police personals and caused some damage to government vehicles,” the dossier read.