‘The only thing I know is my son is innocent’
Pulwama: At her father’s house in Tahab village of Pulwama district, Rubeena patiently listens to the dozens of women who have been visiting her for the last few days, expressing concern over the arrest of her 21-year-old son Kamran Yousuf by the National Investigating Agency (NIA).
Kamran is a freelance photojournalist from Pulwama and works on a regular basis with at least three organisations including local English daily Greater Kashmir, Hyderabad-based news channel Munsif TV and Chandigarh-based channel Gulistan News.
He was summoned to the local police station on September 4 and handed over to the NIA the next day on charges of stone pelting. The agency has subsequently flown him to New Delhi.
After hugging the visitors farewell, while maintaining a brave face all through, Rubeena’s eyes well up as she sees people from her son’s fraternity visit her.
“Will I get back my son?” the 42-year-old single mother asked this reporter, her eyes brimming with tears. “I don’t even know what my son has been trapped into. I have no idea what NIA is and why they have taken away the only person I have in my life.”
Rubeena is devastated at the fact that she was not even allowed to meet her son once before he was taken away.
“What am I supposed to do now? I don’t even know what doors to knock at,” Rubeena laments. “All I know is that my son is innocent.”
Rubeena was separated from her husband when Kamran was two. Ever since, she has lived in a modest dwelling just outside her father’s house and has been working at a private school to support Kamran’s education.
“He is the only one I have and I have been working tirelessly as a clerk at a nearby private school to support me and my son,” she said.
Kamran dropped out of college a couple of years back and took to photojournalism, gradually becoming a well-known name within the journalist fraternity of not only Pulwama but across the Valley as well.
“His days and nights were dedicated to his only passion, journalism. I don’t know much about it but I felt happy seeing him working so hard. Little did I know what was coming for him,” Rubeena said.
She says that had she known that his work would get him into trouble, she would never have allowed him to work at all.
“Yes, we live in difficult conditions, and he was now supporting me in running the house. But I can work another twenty years to keep my son out of harm’s way,” Rubeena said.
She said that her son has never been booked for stone throwing or any other ‘subversive’ activity, and his out-of-the-blue arrest baffles her.
Kamran’s colleagues in Pulwama, who describe him as the most hardworking journalist in the area, are equally baffled at his detention.
“He has always been the first one to reach spots. He reports even seemingly inconsequential pieces of news and without fail. He carved a name for himself in a very short time. We all are shell shocked at his arrest,” Younis Khaliq, a local scribe, told Kashmir Reader.
Media persons from all over south Kashmir held protests against his arrest on Wednesday, in Pulwama as well as in Press Colony in Srinagar.
‘Kamran is a journalist and not a stone pelter,’ their banners read. ‘Free Kamran Yousuf.’
Other banners they carried had Kamran’s work for Greater Kashmir displayed on them while one of the banners had the news of his thrashing by government forces, carried by Greater Kashmir as well.
Some of the journalists in Pulwama feel that a vendetta is being unleashed against Kamran for he has been reporting the truth from ground zero.
“Who knows? May be some powerful people felt the pinch every time Kamran reported even the smallest of protests in Pulwama and its peripheries,” said one of the local scribes, requesting anonymity.
While Kamran’s family and his colleagues are absorbing the shock of his arrest, he has been sent to 10-day police custody by an NIA court.
District Judge Poonam A Bamba allowed the NIA to quiz Kamran till September 16.