Srinagar: A day before Eid-ul-Azha in September last year, 70-year-old Abdul Rashid Wani was arrested from his medical shop in Chogal, Handwara. He was kept at Handwara police station for five days and then sent to Udhampur jail in Jammu under the Public Safety Act. Last month, after his family’s repeated appeals in the High Court that he needed to be administered insulin twice a day for his diabetes, and that he had problems with his thyroid, blood pressure, and spine, for which he had already gone through four surgeries, Wani was brought from Udhampur jail to Srinagar central jail.
Haroon Rashid, his son, told Kashmir Reader that the family applied for his bail in November but the plea is still pending in the High Court. “It was some relief to us when he was brought to Srinagar jail. Now we visit him once a week to provide his medicine and insulin,” Haroon said.
Abdul Rashid Wani is a member of the Jamat-e-Islami, who has been arrested many times before. He has spent more than five years of his life in jails, Haroon told Reader.
Wani’s return home is awaited by his two daughters, two sons, and his wife, who is a heart patient and has gone into depression since the arrest of her aged husband.
Similar is the story 65-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, a resident of Kulangam in Handwara who runs a madarsa in his locality and belongs to a very poor family. He was picked up during a night raid by government troops two days before Eid-ul-Azha.
“They laid a cordon around our house as if he was a big militant, then took him away. When we resisted his arrest, the police said we have to ask him a few questions and will release him in the morning. But instead of releasing him, they put him in lock-up for ten days, before sending him to Udhampur jail without informing us,” Mushtaq Ahmad, Bhat’s younger son, told Kashmir Reader.
Mushtaq said that his father has serious problems in both his legs. He said that his father was picked up by the army’s
Sikh regiment during a crackdown many years ago and tortured ruthlessly, in which his legs were badly injured. “From that time he needed extra care of his legs. In winters, both his legs suffer severe pain and develop an ugly swelling. I used to give him massage daily at night, but since the time he has been arrested, he has not had any relief in his legs,” Mushtaq said.
“We visited him twice in these months. During the last visit, my father pleaded with my elder brother, Haneef Mohammad, to get him out of jail as his legs were in severe pain. My father is a Jamat-e-Islami member from his early age, but he was the one to stop youth from throwing stones at government forces. We have not applied for his bail as we are very poor and have no money to afford a lawyer. The Jamat is helping us in applying for his bail,” Mushtaq said.
The house of Ghulam Hassan Malik in Chaklaphora, Langate, was locked when this correspondent went to meet his family members. His neighbours said that Malik must be more than 55 years of age. He was picked up by government forces, they said, from a nearby mosque where he had gone to attend a gathering on August 4. His son lived in Srinagar and his four daughters were all married. His wife had passed away some years ago.
Malik is lodged in Kot Balwal jail in Jammu. It is not known whether his son or anyone else has applied for his bail.
A family in Dangerpora, Sopore, has a 75-year-old member, a retired forest officer, in Kupwara jail, despite being given bail twice in cases registered against him. Mohd Subhan Wani was arrested on August 18 from his residence and sent to Kathua jail after being kept for four days in Sopore police station.
According to his elder son Farooq Ahmad Wani, his father was eluding the police for some days when the police arrested him instead. Farooq said he was locked up at Sopore police station for nearly 20 days on charges of stone-pelting. When the police caught his father, they let him walk free.
“My father is very old. He is suffering from serious health ailments like heart blockage, thyroid, sugar, and prostate, for which a surgery needs to be done immediately,” Farooq told Reader.
“On November 20 we were successful in securing his bail orders from the High Court. But after receiving his bail orders, police brought him from Kathua jail and put him in Sopore police station for almost 20 days. Instead of releasing him from there, the police shifted him to Sub Jail Baramulla for a week. But we didn’t lose hope; we applied for another bail and sent his bail orders to Sub District Baramulla jail. But even after his second bail they didn’t release him and sent him again to remand at Sopore police station, from where he was sent to Kupwara jail and has been there for the past two months,” Farooq said.
Farooq said that his father is a member of Tehreek-I-Hurriyat. He was once arrested some years ago but was released immediately. This time, though, he has been arrested under several charges and continues to be in jail, Farooq said.
A similar case is of Nazir Ahmad Ganaie, resident of Dangerpora in Sopore. The 65-year-old Ganie, his son Mudasir Nazir said, was arrested during a night raid on July 22 and on August 7 was sent to Udhampur jail under the Public Safety Act. “We had his detention order quashed by the High Court on December 20, but the Sopore police did not release him and instead sent him to Sub Jail Baramulla. We had that arrest order quashed the very next day, on December 21, but the police sent him to Kot Balwal Jail instead of releasing him,” Mudasir told Reader.
“What can we do? We tried everything. Despite being so old and a heart patient, he is not being released. My father is a Hurriyat (G) activist and it is not a crime,” Mudasir said.
According to reports, Nazir Ahmad Ganaie has been brought back from Kot Balwal Jail and has been kept at Sopore police station lock-up for the past two days. He may be released from there in the coming days.
Haji Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf, 76, of Sopore, is still languishing in Kupwara jail after being arrested five months ago. Shah Wali Mohammad, 84, also from Sopore, was released yesterday, on February 1, after spending almost five months in jail.
Given bail by the High Court in November, Haji Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf has not been released and is still in Kupwara Jail under the Public Safety Act. Yousuf’s two sons have already left this world: Mohammad Altaf Sheikh killed in 2015 by unknown gunmen a few metres from his home, and PhD scholar Abdul Roaf, killed by government forces in Srinagar in 2001.
Yousuf’s wife Hanifa Begum, 73, his daughter-in-law and her three kids are the family members he has left in his home. According to his wife, Yousuf has undergone three surgeries in his eye and is a heart patient. He was arrested on August 8 by the Sopore police.
Shah Wali Mohammad, 84, was arrested on charges of stone-pelting on September 1. When contacted on phone after his release yesterday, he said this is not the time for congratulation as the mission for self-determination for Kashmir is still incomplete.
On the phone he said, “I have been arrested many times before and this time it was no different. Even though I am a senior citizen, there is no special treatment for us, nor do we expect any from them.”
He said he was first arrested in March 1965 and kept in jail for more than two years till October 1967 under the DIR Act. After that he was arrested in 1996 and kept in JIC jail of Baramulla for some months. In 2001 he was again arrested and lodged at Baramulla Jail till 2002.
“Even after reaching home to my seriously ill wife, I still think that police will arrest me again and put me in some jail. Expecting any good from them will be foolish. We have not done any crime but are asking for our birthright, which is to live freely, not under occupation,” he said.
Shah, who has been an activist of the Jamat-e-Islami since 1953, said that Haji Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf of Iqbal Nagar Sopore and Mohd Subhan Wani of Dangerpora were with him in Kupwara jail but in different barracks.…