SHOPIAN: A popular crowd puller of 2016 uprising, Sarjan Barkati, has completed more than 600 days in jail, while his distraught family, back home, desperately waits for his release.
Barkati was arrested on October 1, 2016, after earning the sobriquet of “pied piper” during 2016 uprising, for his speeches and peculiar method of sloganeering that attracted large crowds.
Barkati’s family said he was arrested at Wanpoh area of Anantnag and since then is languishing in Central Jail Srinagar. “Two days before, on 16 May he was produced before court in Shopian and was asked to appear again on 29 May. Six times his detention was quashed by court but despite that he was not released,” said Shabrooza, wife of Barkati.
Shabrooza said the family was finding it difficult to make ends meet and manage things in Barkati’s absence.
“My parents are bearing the expenses of my children. People used to come here and help but how long will we be dependent on them,” Shabrooza, who lives in a two room house with his two children, said. Her sister is also living with them to offer support. An old car is lying idle in the small courtyard for the last 20 months.
“We have no land, only a two-room old house. My husband was not earning too much money but whatever he was earning we were living a happy life with that,” she said.
Barkati’s children, Sugra, 12, a class 4th student and Azan, 7, an kindergarten student, study in a private school some five kilometers from Rebban, native village of Barkati.
“The responsibility of expenses of our children has been taken by a person voluntarily and before that they were studying in a government school in our village,” Shabrooza said.
Counting the cases (FIRs) registered in different police stations of south Kashmir against Barkati, she said “He had seven FIRs at Imamsahib police station, 18 at PS Shopian, seven at PS Hirpora, ten at PS Zainapora and four at Yaripora.”
All I want is freedom of my husband, she said.
“They are telling us that two more cases are against him, they don’t release him but charge with more and more cases. How can I contest so many cases with empty hands.”
Despite support from people, Shabrooza finds life difficult.
“Today at Sehri I felt severe pain in stomach, but who would took me to hospital. In the morning I was all alone to consult a doctor in Yaripora,” Shabrooza said.
She would visit Barkati at the central jail in Srinagar, but after a recent escape of a militant, she said, authorities were not allowing them to meet him.
She added that her husband has been freed in most of the cases but two were still pending which has been lodged in Yaripora police station.