Kawoosa (Budgam): For the last 20 months, the family of Sajad Ahmad Rather – a cab driver from Cheki-Kawoosa village of Budgam district- have been striving and hoping for his release.
But the hope raised after J&K High Court quashed his detention under Public Safety Act for the second time some weeks ago, could not live long. Like the first time, Sajad was not released, and instead a third PSA was slapped on him on November 3.
“Ham Allah K raham Pai rahtai hai (we live on God’s mercy),” says Jigra Begum’s, Sajad’s elderly mother in a trembling voice, as she walks in the leafless kitchen garden outside their single storey house in November’s biting cold.
“There are no men in our home to speak up or welcome the guests,” she added.
As we sit inside, Jigra takes out a set of papers (court documents) from an almirah to show to us. Sajad has been under detention for 20 months.
The police detained Sajad three times under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in the span of about one and a half year, Jigra said, pointing to papers.
She lives with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren (sajad’s wife and children) in the house.
The PSA dossiers accuse Sajad of being a motivational speaker for militants, a Hurriyat activist, a stone pelter. Besides, Sajad had been a militant in 90’s, which also the PSA orders make a mention of.
“You are a Pakistan train and a conventional otivational OGW of Leshker-e-Toiba militant outfit. You have crossed the line of control in 1999 to gain the training of how to use arms and ammunition.”
“You have been involved in the stone pelting cases in 2015, 2016 and have provoked the common masses particularly youths to pelt stones upon the government forces. You have also been leading the unruly mobs and instigating the stone pelters to give a stiff resistance to the government forces,” the charges againsts Sajad read.
“You have played a vital role in keeping the act of terrorism boiling and you are most likely to help youths in joining the militant ranks.”
“You have developed close contacts with separatist leaders of Hurriyat (G) and are an executive member of said group. You have also taken part in the Hurriyat rallies and have a criminal bent of mind having deep roots in secessionist elements network who are working against the sovereignty of India”.
On two occasions, the High Court found no tenable grounds for his detention and quashed the PSAs, Sajad’s wife, Mubeena, who is in her 30s, said.
Mubeena said policeman in civvies arrived at their house on April 30, 2017 with a message that Sajad was required to report at the police station.
In the evening, when Sajad returned, he called his younger brother Muzaffar -who lives in a separate house- and went to the police station along with him. At the police post, however, Muzaffar was let off, while Sajad was detained.
“When Muzaffar returned home alone, we were terrified. I asked him to take me to the police officer. I begged before them but they did not listen,” Jigra recalled. Instead of releasing him, she said, they took him to police headquarters in Budgam. Since then he is under detention under PSA.
“I am broken. I have only hope with God,” she said.
Sajad’s family including his three children –Wasik (10), Hamid (8), Faaiz (6) – are desperately waiting for his release. Mubeena is unable to answer the queries of her kids. They ask about their father’s whereabouts and the reasons for him not returning home.
“Whatever they (police) have written in the detention order is untrue and a mere frustration,” she said. “When the court quashed the first PSA order, he was released from one door but was re-arrested from the other door.”
And when second PSA was quashed two months ago, he was kept in police custody in Magam until a dossier was again prepared and third PSA was slapped on him and sent to Jammu jail, she narrated.
In Sajad’s absence, Mubeena has to take care of his family. To travel and meet her husband in Kot Bhalwal jail, she says, they would have to arrange about Rs 10,000, which is difficult for them.
“My kids are worst hit,” she said. “I have been working day in and out to fulfil the family needs since he was detained”.
She earns a meagre income from embroidering pherans and other clothes, to feed her family.
“I request state authorities to at least shift him to a jail closer to home so that we can meet him occasionally,” Mubeena pleaded.
“Sajad, although, was an active militant and had surrendered 19 years ago. The police are alleging that he has contact with militants. It is completely false and baseless,” she said.
“Yahai Kon Gunah Gar ha oor Kon bai Gunah, ya Sab police decide karta ha (who is guilty and who is not guilty, police decides of their own in Kashmir)” she remarked.
“We ran from pillar to post to seek his release but in vain. No one paid attention to our pleas. I am frightened and broken now,” Mubeena said.