Srinagar: Four months have passed since Bashir Ahmad Bhat, alias Peer Saifullah, was called to the Humhama in Budgam by the sleuths of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but since then he has not as yet spoken to his two-member family back home in Srinagar.
Saifullah survived a tumour but was advised continuous medication and special check-ups by experts. However, since his arrest on July 24 by the NIA, he has been inside the Tihar jail in New Delhi and was barred from any “special medical treatment”, his family alleged.
“He has not spoken to me since his arrest,” said Qaiser, the wife of the 48-year-old Saifullah. The two were married some 15 years ago and have a 12-year-old son who studies in sixth standard.
Saifullah, a resident of Zadoora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, is a member of the Syed Ali Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) where he was holding the office of Personal Secretary to Chairperson.
On May 30 this year, when the NIA registered an anti-terror case against the Hurriyat Conference and Syed Ali Geelani, Saifullah was questioned a few times before being flown to New Delhi on July 24. “He was called for questioning to Humhama from where he was told that he was being taken to Delhi,” his wife said. “We were informed, and his brother took some clothes to Humhama from where he was taken away. We did not see him since.”
In her early 40s, Qaiser is busy nourishing her only son, Faisal. “He is under depression,” she said, “after his (Saifullah’s) arrest. We went to our native village, but Faisal did not relent and insisted that we come back. He is restless and cannot bear hearing anything about his father.” She said that Faisal too is under constant medical consultation.
“It was a few years ago that doctors detected the tumour in Saifullah, who was accordingly operated upon,” she informed. “But he still felt acute headaches and pressure. He could not talk much as the doctors at Apollo hospital had advised him to take rest for most of the time.
“He occasionally went for a check-up to Delhi for medical advice and many a times he was given consultation by Apollo’s top doctor, Sudhir Kumar Tyagi in Srinagar along with Dr Muhammad Afzal Wani,” Qaisar said at her three room two-storey house at Rawalpora here.
Qaiser and her 12-year-old son are the lone occupants of the house. “My father would come to stay with us,” she said, “but he is now old and ailing, and we have to manage on our own.”
Saifullah comes from a well-off family from Pulwama but “his conviction cost him everything”, said one of his TeH colleagues.
The Bhats are five brothers, of whom three live in Srinagar, including Saifullah. “The three-room house was bought by his in-laws while Saifullah was in jail,” the TeH activist said.
The TeH activist told Kashmir Reader that Saifullah was released from Central Jail, Srinagar, after his condition deteriorated in 2012. “He was flown to Delhi a day after his release from jail because of his medical condition,” he said. “He was undergoing medical treatment at SKIMS Soura, but doctors advised him to fly out for medical treatment.” That year, he was undergoing PSA detention, he added.
Saifullah is one among ten persons detained by the NIA in an alleged funding case who have been in Tihar jail since July 24.
“It was on November 17 that his brothers met Saifullah in Delhi, and they said that he is not feeling well,” Qaiser said.