Sopore: Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori, aged 70, imprisoned in Kot Balwal jail in Jammu for the past four months under the Public Safety Act (PSA), has been slapped with another PSA under the same cases registered against him earlier.
Sopori, a resident of Badambagh in Sopore town, is chairman of the People’s League organisation and a senior member of the Hurriyat Conference-led by Syed Ali Geelani. He was arrested from the graveyard of Sopore town on February 15 when he had gone there to pay tributes to Ghulam Mohammad Bulla, whose death in custody is said to be the first custodial killing in Kashmir. Sopori was taken to the Sopore police station where he was kept for 16 days before being sent to sub-jail Baramulla on judicial remand for almost 20 days. From there he was shifted under the PSA to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu on March 25 and has continued to languish there ever since, despite the court giving him bail in March in all cases brought against him. Police slapped PSA against him with same sections from which he was bailed in court, his son, Sajad Ahmad Khan, told Kashmir Reader.
“It has now been six months in total since he has been jailed – first in Sopore police station for almost a month, then almost 20 days in Baramulla Sub-Jail, and now he has almost completed four months in Kot Balwal jail in Jammu,” Sajad Ahmad said. “He already had one PSA slapped against him to which another was added on June 24.”
Sajad Ahmad said he could not understand why this second PSA charge had been brought against his father when he was already in jail under the act. “This is a grave violation, but nobody is doing anything against this lawlessness,” he said.
“Keeping the advanced age of my husband in view, Kot Balwal jail in Jammu, where my husband is imprisoned under the draconian PSA, is a direct threat to his life,” Hafeeza Begum, Sopori’s wife, told Kashmir Reader. “My husband is suffering from many ailments like thyroid, hypertension, slipped disc, neck and knee problem and the latest is a problem in his ears. If anything happens to him, who will be responsible for it?
“On Jun 20, a few days before Eid-ul-Fitr, we sent my husband an amount of Rs 2,000 through post office Srinagar as we thought that not being at home on the eve of Eid, he might be in need of some money. But when we went to pay him a visit on June 30, we came to know that he had not received any amount. We checked with the post office Srinagar, and they confirmed the money had been delivered to the address we had given. If my husband has not received it, then who has taken our hard-earned money,” was Hafeeza Begum’s anguished query.
“We also came to know there, only on June 30, that my husband has been slapped with another PSA, the paper of which was delivered to him in jail on June 24, under the same cases,” Hafeeza Begum added.
“We applied on March 27 for quashing the first PSA, brought against him on March 25,” Sajad Ahmad told Kashmir Reader. “Its hearing was on July 3 but was shifted to July 17. Now they have shifted it again to July 20, but look at the irony! Neither was the hearing file in my father’s case picked by the judge, when it was listed at number 8, nor was the file opened of our sealed house in Chanpora, Srinagar. They are doing it deliberately.”
Khan Sopori’s mud-and-brick house in the uptown Chanpora locality of capital Srinagar was confiscated by the government in 2012 on charges of Sopori’s “acting as a conduit of banned terrorist outfit Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami (HuJI) and … providing financial assistance to it through Hawala transactions”. However, says Sajad, “No evidence has been presented by the police till this day, but still our house continues to remain sealed.”
In conclusion, he says, “The family of the Khan Sopori wants to appeal to human rights bodies and other concerned groups to take notice of these grave human rights violations and urge the state government of Jammu and Kashmir to release our aged father.”