SHOPIAN: It has been 840 days (two years and four months) since Sarjan Barkati was arrested in Kulgam district for his wide participation in public gatherings in 2016 after the valley rose in protest against the killing of militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
A resident of Reban village in Chitragam belt of Shopian district, some 18 kilometres from the district headquarters, Barkati’s family including his wife Shabrooza, daughter Sugra and son Azan have been living a distressed life in a house shared by two families including their neighbour. They have only two rooms in a shared house.
Azan is a kindergarten student while Sugra is studying in class 5th at a private school. The family said that a person is voluntarily taking the expenses of education of both the children.
There were 57 cases against Barkati, the family said adding that being a famous crowd puller, he got a name of ‘pied piper of south Kashmir’. They said that most of the cases were quashed by the court and despite that several are pending without bail under which he has been booked.
One of the lawyers defending Barkati in the cases said, “He (Barkati) is currently booked under the arms act and murder case”. His wife says all the cases are ‘fake’. “The policeman during the protests tried to throw a shell on civilians but that exploded in his own hand while my husband was not there,” she said.
Shabrooza said that it is getting tougher to handle the children and bear the daily expenses even at the time when her children enquire about the whereabouts of their father. “The wealth of whole world can’t provide the love of a father. My son who is around five-year-old isn’t in a position to understand where his father is,” she said adding that all she wants is the release of her husband so that they can save the education and better life of their children.
Locals from the Reban said that Sarjan Barkati has no land, business or any means to fulfil the needs of the family. They said that since his arrest they have nothing but the mercy of God.
Barkati’s daughter, Sugra said that she was dreaming to become a doctor but the continuous detention of his father has vanished her dreams and they are apprehensive about their survival. “How long people will help us and how long will we live life without father,” Sugra said. She questions the intention of government by saying that the persons who were arrested with his father, were released but her father has been languishing in jail despite the court bails.
Shabrooza said that her husband was not allowed to reach home after court bailed him out several times. “Soon after the court ordered to release him (Barkati), he was re-arrested in or outside court complexes with the excuses that he has many more cases,” she said, adding, “The education and life of my children is ruining. I am not able to spend time with my children as I have to attend courts to defend the cases of my husband.”
Shabrooza said that even meeting Barkati in jail has become a dream for them, as, according to them, the authorities were not allowing meeting Barkati. “We recently met him after three months in jail,” she said.
The locals of Reban village said that before 2016, Barkati’s family was living a modest life while he was making his two ends meet as a cleric. They said Barkati is an Aalim (Islamic scholar) from Idara-e-Tahqeeqat-e-Islami (Islamic research centre) founded by late Qazi Nisar. In 2015, Barkati founded his own organisation Tehreeqi Fiqr-o-Aetiqad.