By Aakash Hassan
Anantnag: Mohammad Sarjan Wagay, alias Sarjan Barkati, popularly known as ‘freedom chacha (uncle)’, a charismatic crowd puller in south Kashmir during the raging uprising, was arrested Saturday morning.
His distinctive and impassioned style of sloganeering made him one of the most sought after leader in south Kashmir. He is learnt to have attended as many as 180 freedom rallies and spoken at 150.
Barkati, who hails from Reban, Kulgam, had gone into hiding after police declared him a proclaimed offender and announced a reward for information leading to his arrest. They had raided his home on several occasions.
His house had been sealed last Thursday and a notice was pasted on the door of the house.
A police official said that Barkati was arrested in Wanpoh on Saturday morning.
Barkati was booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), Ummat-e-Islami organisation said.
Barkati, a sufi, was an imam in a Pulwama mosque and started participating in freedom rallies after the killing of a youth in Khudwani area.
He was associated with Ummat-e-Islami religious organisation. He has been participating in the annual Milad rally held in Islamabad for the past five years. He has earned fame for his naats and he is one of the most sought after orators at religious programmes. He was also the chairman of the religious wing of Ummat-e-Islami.
People would come to freedom rallies only to listen to him and leave soon after he would finish his speeches.
Listening to Sarjan
In one of the rallies, as Barkati was made to wait in line for his speech, people stood up to leave the ground. The organisers were forced to persuade people to stay put but in vain. It was only after the speaker declared that he has dedicated his time to Barkati did the people return.
His anthems have become a rage in the South. Zindabad and Naarai Takbeer are regularly played in mosques. Burhan Soan Shaheed Govv in praise of Burhan Wani is his latest addition and he was made to recite a part of these songs at every rally.
Every rally was incomplete without the ‘Barkati slogans’ that added kinetic dimension to the verbal.
He would make a gesture akin to a knife cutting something while shouting ‘Tera Bhai Mera Bhai’ (your and my brother, Burhan bhai bhai) and thump air while calling ‘Down Down’, which people would respond by crying “India Down”.
He mostly sought refuge in Redwani, where the forces have faced stiff resistance from people.