SRINAGAR: Rehmatullah, a meritorious student and “the only one in a nine-member family who had a deep interest in studies”, has lost 14 months of his youth in jail for being “a threat to the security of the state and maintenance of public order.” Arrested in August 2016, he has been twice booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) and confined at Kot Balwal Jail.
Fayaz Ahmad, his brother, told Kashmir Reader that police took Rehmatullah under custody on a Friday in August. He was subsequently booked under PSA and sent to jail the same day.
“He was never released after that,” Fayaz said. “We pleaded before both the government and the court, but to no avail.”
Resident of a far-flung area in Doda, Rehmatullah had been an “intelligent and meritorious” student throughout his career, Fayaz said. In Class 10, he secured 426 marks out of 500, and in Class 12 scored more than 90%, said Dawood, Rehmatullah’s close friend. He also won a scholarship from 8th to 12th standard, Dawood added.
Fayaz said his brother was the only one in their nine-member family who had a deep interest in studies. After him, his youngest sister is pursuing higher studies. Rest of his two brothers have studied up to Class 12 while the sisters have not studied beyond Class 10, Fayaz said.
“He is our hope. We believe he will take us out from despair to light. Though he has lost 14 months, we will support him in continuing with higher studies,” Fayaz said.
Rehmatullah’s studies have been supported by his father, who earns by selling different commodities on a kiosk, and by Fayaz, who sells readymade garments.
According to Fayaz, Rehmatullah was sent to a good school in Shopian where he had qualified an exam to earn a scholarship.
“He was never involved in any (anti-government) activity. He had no previous FIR, no police record,” Fayaz said. “This is the reason why police have not correctly named his parentage in their FIR. His father’s name is Abdul Gani, but the FIR names him as Abdul Rasheed.”
Education Minister Altaf Bukhari said that he will get the boy released soon. “I have been working on his case for some time. I will get him released in two weeks,” he said.