Family in shock; student leaves note on social media suggesting KU authorities are targeting him
Srinagar: A student of Kashmir University was arrested on Friday by police in a case which was registered against him in 2018.
Aaqib Ahmad Naik, a resident of Aglar Pinjoora area of Shopian district, was called for questioning to Police Station Nigeen in Hazratbal area of Srinagar on Thursday. The next day, when he went there, he was arrested.
Aqib, aged 26, is a biochemistry student at University of Kashmir. He is currently in the 2nd semester of his course and was attending online classes for the past few months while staying at home.
After receiving the call from police station Nigeen on Thursday, Aaqib left for Srinagar from his home in Shopian early on Friday morning. He didn’t return home, as he was arrested at the police station.
Family members said that the police did not mention anything about a case against him when they called him. They just asked him to report to the police station for normal questioning, after which he was supposed to come back home.
They said that they came to know about his arrest on Friday evening, through a phone call informing them that Aaqib had been arrested in a case related to “unlawful activities” registered against him two years ago.
Sudhanshu Verma, Superintendent of Police, Hazratbal, told Kashmir Reader, “The arrest has been made under an old case, registered against him at Police Station Nigeen. After proper investigation, he was found to be involved in some unlawful activities He has been arrested accordingly. There is no new case against him.”
On being asked why the arrest was made two years later, the officer said, “The arrests are not made in a hurry. After verifying the facts, and the charges against him, and after obtaining proper evidence and other related information, the arrest has been made.”
Local news gathering agency Kashmir News Trust (KNT) quoted an unnamed official as saying, “A case vide number 68/2018 under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act (UAPA) stands registered at Nigeen police station. The role of the student has been established and subsequently he has been detained.”
Aaqib’s family members say their son has never been involved in any activity which poses a threat to law and order.
His brother, Yawar Mushtaq, told Kashmir Reader, “All charges against my brother are false. My brother is innocent. He has been targeted.”
Yawar said that Aaqib possessed leadership skills and used to raise his voice at the university on issues relating to the welfare of students. “That is all. Nothing more, nothing less,” Yawar said.
Aaqib was elected as students’ representative at the Boys Hostel of KU’s Zakura campus by students in the year 2017, Yawar mentioned.
Aaqib’s mother, Kausar Jan, lamented the arrest of her son and said he was innocent.
“My son is innocent. Please release him, for the sake of Allah. For the last four months he was only at home, before my eyes, but all of a sudden he was called to the police station,” she said.
“I request the authorities to release my son on humanitarian grounds. He has been arrested under false charges. He can never be involved in any such activities,” she added.
Earlier this year in February, Aaqib was taken into preventive detention and kept in Central Jail Srinagar for about eight days. After his release, Aaqib was barred from entering the university campus for about 20 days.
“My son was arrested this year in February, and kept at Central Jail Srinagar for almost 10 days. Since then, he has been totally restricted to his home. He avoided stepping out due to the fear of detention,” said Kausar Jan.
In a note posted on social media, purportedly by Aaqib himself before his arrest on Friday, he has narrated the sufferings of his life. In the note he has accused the Kashmir University authorities of “ruining his career”.
“The university authorities didn’t allow me to appear in my second semester tests, citing shortage in attendance as reason, but that was never the case. I lost two years of my academic career. I’m still in second semester after four years”, Aaqib writes in the note.
He mentions that he had joined the biochemistry course in 2017, but since then three years have passed and he’s only been able to reach the 2nd semester.
He writes that he was dragged out from the university one day when he questioned a politician, and then he was summoned to the police station, in the year 2019.
“I stood up against corruption and backdoor entries in the university and filed an RTI against the whole university. That didn’t go down well with the university authorities. Instead of supporting me, they started harassing me and charged me in different cases,” he says in the note.
In the note he writes that he was threatened by a university official, who told him that he will be “picked up by security agencies”.
Aaqib has also mentioned the 2018 case under which he has now been arrested. “In 2018, I was summoned by Nigeen police station under FIR 68 unlawful act sec 13,” he has written.
Lastly, Aaqib writes, “I am summoned by police station Nigeen and I don’t even know the reason.”
Registrar, University of Kashmir, Dr Nisar Mir, denied these allegations. “University is meant for the education and welfare of students. It can never destroy the future of students, it can only build it. All the allegations are baseless, and the university is in no way responsible for this arrest,” Dr Mir said.
He added, “There is a protocol which needs to be followed for availing hostel facility. Everyone is equal before the authorities, and is treated accordingly. He (Aaqib) was never denied hostel accommodation; rather, he had already availed it for a certain period and that duration for which he was given the hostel was over. We can’t keep only selected students in hostels while denying other students.”
Asked why Aaqib was allegedly denied entry into the varsity several times, Dr Mir said, “The university has nothing to do with that. It may have been done by police authorities who stand guard at the entrance gates.”
Chief Proctor at KU, Prof Showkat Shah, refused to comment on this matter. “This is a police case. We are not relevant to this case,” he said.
The Joint CR Association of students, University of Kashmir, has condemned the arrest of Aaqib, calling the charges against him “baseless and false”.
In a statement, it said that the arrested student has always worked for the welfare of students, raising genuine demands with the university authority.
“It is just childish and undignified on the part of the government to arrest an innocent student during this pandemic,” the association said.
Calling it an “attack on students”, the association demanded immediate release of Aaqib, while cautioning the authorities of a protest on this issue.