KULGAM: The seventy-year-old imprisoned Jamaat-i-Islami activist, Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh, of Kulgam, might be thought of as a lucky man. Although he has been in prison for more than a year now, he nonetheless enjoys the backing of two powerful voices on his side: a High Court order and the local Deputy Commissioner’s recommendation that he should be released. And yet the old man’s agony continues because some in the police don’t want him to be a free man as they fear he might instigate protest against the government.
Sheikh was picked up in November, 2016, during the police crackdown to suppress the mass protest demonstrations that erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The police blamed Sheikh for making provocative speeches at rallies and instigating youth to indulge in violence against the government forces.
The police soon found a way of prolonging his detention, booking him under PSA again, and shifted him to a Jammu jail. He was termed as a threat to peace and security of the state. On February 28 this year the court again quashed Sheikh’s PSA and ordered his release. Subsequently, he was shifted to district jail in Mattan, Anantnag, where he continues to be under illegal detention.
This month no less a figure than the Deputy Commissioner of the district wrote to the local police head asking him to implement the High court order and release the old man. The officer said in the “request” that the prisoner’s daughter was going to be married next month and he should be freed on humanitarian grounds.
Broken and bitter at the refusal of the police to release her old husband, Mughli Banu had approached the district administration for help to free her husband. Taking note of her plea Talat Parvez Rohella, the outgoing deputy commissioner wrote to the Superintendent of Police, Kulgam, on March 10, requesting him to release the old man on humanitarian grounds. The police officer though has paid no heed to the written request of a top district official.
Rohella’s recommendation for Sheikh’ release was in some ways unusual. A deputy commissioner normally always goes with the police in deciding about a political detainee’s prison term. This is what Rohella’s letter said: “It is to intimate that one lady Mughli Banoo approached our office with the pleas to release her husband detained under provisions of PSA 1978 vide this office order no 48/DMK/PSA/2017 and lodged in central jail Kaut Balwal Jammu. The honourable court has quashed the detention vide order no 7523 dated 28/2/2018 and the operative part of the order is herewith enclosed.”
It further says that the wife of Sheikh has prayed for her husband to be freed in view of their daughter’s marriage which as per Nikah Nama is scheduled to be solemnised on 25/4/2018. “Keeping in view all the facts and circumstances of the case , it is strongly impressed that the said detainee be released forthwith to attend the orders of honourable high court and also on humanitarian grounds so that he can attend marriage of his daughter,” the communication concludes.
“It is up to the government to take call on his release,” a police official told the Greater Kashmir. The officer said there was no fresh “dossier” prepared against the accused. “If there are any cases registered against him in any police station in Kulgam, he has to first get bail from court,” said the police officer.
The family believes that the government is wilfully prolonging Sheikh’s arrest because he participated in pro-freedom protest movement of 2016. “My husband has some dozen FIRs against him just because he used to participate in pro-freedom protests and unity rallies of various sects in Kulgam district during 2016 summer uprising. However, police has come up with charges like instigating violence which are frivolous,” said his wife. The Jammu and Kashmir High court quashed Sheikh’s PSA in May 2017.