Srinagar, June 13: At a time when the Indian government has left a feeler about talks with resistance leadership, at least top 80 leaders and activists of pro-freedom groups are languishing in jails.
Most of the pro-freedom leaders and activists who are behind bars belong to Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
The list prepared by TeH shows that their detainees include persons as old as 75. “Most of our members were first hounded and then arrested by police. They have been lodged in different jails in and outside Kashmir,” a TeH member told media in Srinagar. He said that though courts intermittently order their release, “they are being booked on other charges and thus their freedom is scuttled”.
“Most of our members are booked under the notorious Public Safety Act (PSA),” he said. “Once the PSA is quashed by court, police book them under a fresh PSA instead of releasing them.”
The TeH has designated a team of its members to look after the cases. A battery of lawyers from the Kashmir High Court Bar Association fights their cases in court.
The APHC mentioned the case of Khan Sopori. “One of our prominent leaders, Khan Sopori, who is a grandfather, has not been released for long now,” an APHC member said. “He has been booked under a 4th consecutive PSA.”
Many of APHC activists have been lodged outside J&K jails. “The NIA raided the residences of most of our top leaders and activists,” he said. “Five of our top members who virtually ran all affairs of the APHC were arrested and jailed in the infamous Tihar Jail,” he said. The five top members that he mentioned are Altaf Ahmad Shah, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Raja Merajud Din Kalwal. Besides, the NIA arrested media advisor of Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat forum, Shahidul Islam. Three leaders of JKLF have been booked, two of them under PSA – SirajUd Din Mir and Abdul Rashid Magloo. Both of them are in Jammu’s Kot Balwal Jail. The third JKLF leader, Sheikh Nazir, is serving a life sentence in the same jail.
Recently, police arrested a top orator of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bashir Ahmad Lone. He was arrested along with TeH’s Rafiq Ahmad Shah and both were booked under PSA and sent to Kot Balwal jail. Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League Chairman, Masarrat Aalam Butt is also facing illegal detention for the past several years.