SRINAGAR: Trust the police to lie with a straight face. In reply to a query filed under RTI (Right To Information), the JK Police have solemnly stated that no Hurriyat activist was arrested during the entire 2016 uprising. It is a statement that police officers themselves are unable to stomach.
“Not any Hurriyat activist has been arrested during recent agitation 2016,” is the JK Police’s pithy response to an RTI application filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The NGO had asked the police to provide list of Hurriyat activists who were put under house arrest since July 9, the day Kashmir erupted in protest against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The date, place, and timing of arrest of Hurriyat activists, along with the copies of the order for house arrest issued by the relevant authority, all that the JKCCS had asked for in its RTI application, was simply tossed aside by the JK Police with the sweeping statement that “not any Hurriyat activist” had been arrested.
The gob smacking reply has come not from one office but from many: the police headquarters of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Awantipora, Kulgam, Sopore, Kupwara, and Handwara.
A number of senior police officers, all of whom wished to remain anonymous, told Kashmir Reader that they had never detained any pro-freedom leader without an order.
“It is a question of restricting the person’s liberty. It has to have an order,” one senior police officer in Srinagar said. “It is the magistrate who issues an order. No person can be detained in any form without it,” he emphasised.
Another police officer told Kashmir Reader that various detention laws are invoked to restrict the movement of any person, that is, not one law but several combined to even put someone under house arrest.
Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson of the Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat, said that Geelani had been put under house arrest a month before July 9, and continues to remain under house arrest till today.
“He was never set free for a length of time, particularly if we talk of the period since July 9. There were many leaders of the Hurriyat who were put under house arrest,” Ayaz said. “But the fact is, not a single time was any order produced before us by the police which said that our leader had to be kept under house arrest.”
Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Kashmir Reader that since July 9 he has been in jail for two months and under house arrest for four months. This year (2017), he said, he has been under house arrest off and on. He said he could not lead prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid even during the holy month of Ramazan this year, something that happened for the first time since the 2010 uprising against India.
Another pro-freedom leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, told Kashmir Reader that he has completed 44 months under house arrest since 2011.
“In 2016, I was not allowed even to attend my aunt and uncle’s funerals because I was under house arrest. Even now, when I am speaking to you, I am under house arrest,” he said. “There is a limit to lies,” he added in exasperation.
During their house arrest, several pro-freedom leaders have missed funerals of their relatives, as well as marriage ceremonies. Ayaz Akbar said that Geelani has not visited any of his relatives for a long time. “Even for medical check-up the police do not spare him,” he said.
Ayaz said the Hurriyat had moved court in 2009 against Geelani’s house arrest. “The then Chief Justice, Barin Gosh, outrightly called the house arrest illegal. Geelani sahab was set free for few days but was again put under house arrest. We moved a contempt petition against the police, but nothing has come of it since then,” Akbar said.
Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid told Kashmir Reader that he had no information regarding the issue.