Sopore: In a telling example of how the “lawless law” called Public Safety Act (PSA) is deployed in Kashmir, the J&K government in a fresh dossier has accused 70-year-old Khan Sopori, who has been in jail since February, of giving a provocative speech at the funeral of Hizb militant Qayoom Najar on September 26, a date on which Sopori was in detention at Sopore police station.
Najar, the longest-surviving militant commander of Sopore, was killed in an encounter along the Line of Control in Uri on September 26. At that time, Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) leader Khan Sopori was under police detention at Sopore after the J&K High Court had quashed on September 15 a second PSA detention order against him. Sopori was first arrested in February this year under a PSA order that the High Court quashed in June. On both occasions that the PSA orders were quashed, Sopori was not released from jail. Now the government has prepared a fresh PSA dossier, charging Sopori with delivering a “provocative speech” at Najar’s funeral.
“On 26.09.2017 you and your other associates of Hurriyat (G) participated in the last funeral of militant commander of HM outfit, namely Abdul Qayoom Najar, son of Abdul Ahad Najar of Kranshivan Colony Sopore, and delivered a provocative speech among the assembled people of Sopore area,” reads the new police dossier for detaining Sopori in jail under PSA.
“(You) also shouted slogans against the government of India and state of J&K. In this regard, case FIR no 102/2017 US/ 153-A RPC, stands registered in police station Tarzoo which is under investigation,” reads the dossier.
The dossier mentions that Sopori was released from PSA detention on September 9 and thereafter he was charged with “provoking, motivating the youth of Sopore for creating law and order problems.”
“You are presently spreading rumours in the area Sopore, in order to vitiate the peace of area Sopore. You have been found involved in case FIR no 102/2017 US/153 RPC of PS Tarzoo,” the dossier says.
The facts are contrary to what the dossier says. Sopori, chairman of the Peoples League and senior member of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani, was arrested in Sopore on February 15, 2017, and has been in jail under PSA detentions for the past nine months.
Baramulla District Commissioner Nasir Ahmad Naqash, who signed the new dossier, told Kashmir Reader that the PSA dossier was prepared by the district police chief.
The PSA was enacted in 1978 and it enables the government to detain any person without a trial for periods up to two years. It has been described as a “lawless law” by the Amnesty International.
Sopori’s son Sajad Khan told Kashmir Reader that his father was not released for a single day since his detention in February.
“How is it possible that he has participated or given a speech at the funeral of the HM militant commander? My father was in the Sopore police station after he was granted bail in his second PSA on September 15,” he said.
“He was sent to Kathua Jail in Jammu after a third PSA was slapped against him, without any information to the family,” said Sajad Khan. “It was only when my father called from someone’s cell phone that the police were taking him to Jammu that we came to know about it.”
“We had hoped that they will release him after the PSA against him was quashed the second time in September, but they instead slapped him with a third PSA under totally fake and fabricated charges and took him to Jammu when his health was in a bad state. This is the extreme level of cruelty,” Sajad Khan said.
Sopori’s wife, three sons and a daughter live in a rented house in Sopore for the past six years, as their own house located in Srinagar’s Chanapora was confiscated by the government in 2012, on charges that Sopori was “acting as conduit of Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami (HuJI) and providing financial assistance to it through Hawala transactions”. Sajad said that no evidence has been presented by police so far to substantiate these charges.
“Our home was seized because my father had been affiliated with the resistance camp since his youth. He has spent more than 18 years in jail. When they failed to break his resolve, they snatched our home,” Sajad said.