Left to fend for themselves, victim families run risk of mental disorders
Budgam, Oct 23:In a deserted lane of Yarigund village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, the only audible sound is the wailing of a mother.
As visitors start to gather outside Adil Yousuf Ganai’s house in solidarity, the relentless wails of his mother get louder. “They have taken away my soul,” says Adil’s mother, Firdousa Akhtar.
“My heart cries and I feel like choked every time I think about Adil since police arrested him,” she says.
Forty-year-old Firdousa is a heart patient and has no vision in one eye despite three surgeries.
“First my heart disease and loss to vision deteriorated my health. Now my son’s arrest under PSA has left me distressed,” she says.
“He is the light of my eyes. Please bring him back to me” she wails.
Adil was booked under PSA on September 18, but his family says they were not informed about his detention.
He was arrested by Magam Police when he was caught between police and stone pelting youth outside his home in Yarigund area of Check Kawoos in Budgam. Adil has been shifted to Kot bhalwal jail Jammu. However, his family says the grounds of detention are false and frivolous.
“His detention is illegal as he is yet to cross 18 years of age,” his father Muhammad Yousuf Ganai told Rising Kashmir.
Adil, who is a school dropout, has been shouldering the responsibility of a large family by doing meager jobs.
“He was preparing to appear in Matriculation exams as a private candidate,” the father says. “But his arrest will ruin his future.”
“He is a big support to the family, psychologically and financially. He never indulged in bad company. Now when he is away from us I have to shoulder huge financial burden alone,” says Yousuf.
The mother says going to meet him in Kot bhalwal is again an expensive affair.
“It takes minimum ten thousand rupees for travel and other expenses to meet him in Kot bhalwal jail. I appeal the government to shift him to Srinagar so that I can meet him regularly without any financial burden,” says Firdousa.
Adil’s family is not the only family to beat the arrest of their wards.
Family of another PSA detenue Bilal Ahmad Bhat of Badran in Magam is accusing police of framing him. “We are going through a distressful situation as our son is away from us and we don’t know in which condition he is living,” says his father Abdul Gani Lone.
“Our financial condition is very week and his detention is putting us to a lot of trouble,” he adds.
According to officials, around 21 persons have been detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) in Budgam district alone while Magam police having detained 11 youth under the controversial law.
Magam, Beerwah, Mazhama and Narbal areas of Budgam have seen massive clashes between youth and government forces in the past over three months of the uprising. To quell the protests, the government has launched massive crackdown and has booked at least ten persons under PSA.
According to police most of these youth have been booked on charges of stone-pelting and instigating clashes and unrest in the area while some among them are active members of Tehreek –e-Hurriyat (G).
These persons have been shifted to Kupwara and Kot bhalwal jails, according to police.
Those booked under PSA by Magam police include Javid Ahmad Marazi son of Muhammad Sidiq of Ghat Narbal (shifted to Kupwara jail), Adil Yousuf Ganai son of Muhammad Yousuf of Yarigund Kawoosa (shifted to Kot bhalwal), Abdul Majeed Rather son of Abdul Gaffar Rather of Har Chandanhama Tangmarg (Kupwara jail), Rouf Ahmad Ganai son of Sammadullah Ganai Of Agrikalaan Magam (Kot bhalwal), Bilal Ahmad Lone son of Abdul Gani Lone of Badran, Tariq A Sheikh son of Ghulam Rasool Sheikh of Mazhama, Bilal Ahmad Gojri son of Muhammad Ramzan Gojri of Chihikura Tangmarg (Kot bhalwal), Javaid A Wani son of Abdul Majeed of Beerwah (Kot bhalwal), Muhammad Shafi Wani son of Muhmmad of Beerwah (Kot bhalwal), Rafiq A Nath son of Muhammad Akbar Nath of Arwa Beerwah (Kot bhalwal) and Abdul Hamid Mir son of Abdul Rehman Mir of Rawalpora Khansahab.
Senior lawyer Shafqat Hussain, who has been pleading the cases of PSA detainees for the last 25 years, said the law has been misused in J&K to suppress dissenting voices of people.
“Every government, be it NC or PDP, has been misusing the draconian law with impunity,” he said.
PSA, which allows a person to be detained without trial for months, was promulgated in 1978, ostensibly to target timber smugglers. But up to 1990, it was frequently used by governments against political opponents. After the militancy started in Kashmir, the law was used repeatedly to postpone or avoid normal investigations and trial.
A detention order under PSA can be issued by a district magistrate or divisional commissioner, and an individual could initially be detained for up to two years for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for up to a year for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
Noted psychiatrist, Dr Mushtaq Margoob said the victim families had a greater risk of developing serious mental disorders as they have been left to fend for themselves in the absence societal support.
“Children and women are considered as a vulnerable lot due to physiological and biological turbulences. So whenever there is abnormal situation or unrest, the female and juvenile victims become easy prey,” he said.
According to him children in Kashmir are among a trauma generation with adolescents becoming susceptible to psychological distresses in the transition phase from childhood to adulthood.
“In this situation, the sustainable societal support can make a lot of difference to channelize the aggression and anger among the victims especially youth,” Dr Margroob said.
Besides the PSA detentions, nocturnal raids by police has also lead to distressful situation with hundreds of youth being forced to go into hiding. Residents of Budgam also alleged harassment at the hands of forces who barge into houses during the night.
Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Magam, said the night raids were being conducted almost daily in many central Kashmir areas by police, army and paramilitary forces to nab youth who are allegedly involved in street protests during the uprising triggered by the killing of Hibzul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
As per official data, nearly 300 persons were injured in Budgam during clashes over the last three months.
Dr Margoob said the excesses by police could lead to violent reactions in absence of psychological support.
“We should minimize the sufferings of victims immediately and monitor their growth and development after a specific time period,” he said.
(The author is a Correspondent with Rising Kashmir and can be mailed at email@example.com. This story is part of Peace Media Fellowship-2016 by Save the Children)