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Kashmiris struggle to meet relatives in detention

Hundreds of people detained in Jammu and Kashmir since Aug. 5 when Indian government stripped region of special status

Ahmad Adil   | 03.09.2019
Kashmiris struggle to meet relatives in detention

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

Afroza is a mother from Srinagar who has a heart-wrenching daily routine over the two weeks. She visits a local police station in the capital to meet his young son who was arrested as part of massive detentions in India after the scrapping of special status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. 

"Two weeks ago, police raided our house at 2 a.m. local time [2030GMT] and they picked my son. Since then he has lodged in the police station. My husband and I have been coming almost every day to meet him,” the 41-year-old mother told Anadolu Agency outside a local police station in Raj Bagh neighborhood.

“You can understand how difficult it is for a mother and father to stay away from their son,” she said woefully.

“We are just praying that he will be released soon,” said Afroza, who refused to name her son, 19, due to legal and safety concerns.

She said that her son was once arrested on the charges of stone pelting, but he never got involved in such a crime again.

“This time, we haven’t been informed about the reason of detention,” Afroza said.

Her son is among hundreds of people detained in Jammu and Kashmir recently without informed about the legal charge behind their detention.

Abdul Majeed, 39, a resident of the Soura area in Srinagar’s north, is the uncle of another 19-year-old detainee, who visit the local police station constantly to meet his nephew held in detention since Aug. 17.

"For the first week, they [police] were not allowing us to meet [the nephew]. But we have started meeting him and he is fine. But we are trying to know under what charges he has been in detention," said Majeed.

Police officials told Majeed that his nephew was detained as a “precautionary measure” as they feel he can incite violence, said the uncle.

“They have told us they will not register any case against him,” Majeed said.

Recently, most of the police stations in Srinagar have witnessed a rush outside of family members and relatives coming to meet the detainees.

They had to wait for hours before allowed to meet the detainees.

The same rush is outside Srinagar's Central Jail -- located in the old part of the city -- where a large number of people gather to meet their beloved ones.

“I am just praying that Public Safety Act is not slapped on my son. His career will get ruined. I met him twice recently, and I told him not to worry and he will be released soon,” one of the parents just outside the jail, who requested to be anonymous due to security reasons, told Anadolu Agency.

Since Aug. 5, when the Indian government revoked the special provisions under which the disputed region enacted its own laws, the authorities have made hundreds of detentions, including political leaders, across the Muslim-majority region.

Among those arrested were two former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have been lodged in the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar, which is currently housing dozens of mainstream Indian leaders under arrest.

Shabir Ahmad, cousin of Waheed Para, a top leader of Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir told Anadolu Agency outside the hotel: “I just met him (Waheed) and he is fine. I don’t know when he will be released.”

Bilal Ahmad, who met Imran Ansari, a prominent Shia leader and senior leader of Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference party said after his visit: “He [Ansari], too, is not aware why he has been placed under arrest inside the hotel.”

While Jammu and Kashmir government spokesman Rohit Kansal and the authorities in the region have not disclosed the total figure of the detentions since Aug. 5, sources in the Jammu and Kashmir police told Anadolu Agency that the number of arrests are “officially” almost 2,000.

Police officials in Srinagar also claimed that they are also releasing the youth who were put under detention.

Sources also said that arrests have been made under controversial Public Safety Act and many people have been sent to jails in various part of India.

The Public Safety Act is a draconian law under which authorities can arrest a person above the age of 16, without trial for a period of two years.

A media report had recently claimed that 4,000 people have been arrested in the region since Aug. 5, but Kansal denied the report terming it as “baseless” during a press briefing.

Mohammed Amin, a resident of Srinagar’s old city, was furious over the recent arrest of his son as well: “Do you think my son will be happy inside? The detention inside the police station will only make him more angry and furious.”

Amin was sure of his demand from the Indian government: “They should release all the young boys immediately.”

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