“We had high hopes that the PSA would be quashed but at the last moment the judge rejected our appeal”
Srinagar: University of Kashmir (KU) is witnessing massive student protests, seeking immediate release of one of their mates, who is enrolled as a journalism student in the varsity.
Tahir Mir, a 24-year-old journalism student registered in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of KU, is detained under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) currently lodged in the central jail, Srinagar.
“Early this morning as KU resumed its work, students came out of their departments and converged at Naseem Bagh, before taking out a solidarity march through varsity lanes,” a research scholar of the varsity told the FreePressKashmir on the condition of anonymity.
The aggrieved students, the scholar said, are demanding release of Tahir. “The Vice Chancellor should use his good offices, contact J&K government and seek immediate release of Tahir,” the protesting students said.
A resident of Bandipora, Tahir’s father –Habibullah Mir – was a cop in J&K police who died in 2000 after suspected militants attacked a convoy of SP rank officer with whom late Mir was posted as PSO.
Arrested by police in 2016, Tahir was shifted to Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu. He has 13 FIRs against him, on charges of stone-throwing and disrupting law and order.
After the deputy commissioner Bandipora signed PSA dossier against Tahir, he lost his job in the J&K Education department where he worked as a laboratory bearer.
Speaking to FreePressKashmir from Bandipora, sister of Tahir, said, “We had high hopes that the PSA would be quashed but at the last moment the judge rejected our appeal.”
The case was heard in the J&K High Court, Srinagar around ten days back. The case is being fought by veteran lawyer Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, who is also the President of the Bar Association.
“Tahir is appearing in the first semester examination and for that purpose he was brought to Srinagar,” she said, “otherwise his lodgment has been kept in Kot Bhalwal jail Jammu.”
The KU students staged a sit-in outside the JKP cops guarded office of VC, however, Prof Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi – the VC – is out of the campus attending a program in SP College in summer capital.
“The students were addressed by three students, including a female student from MERC, of KU who detailed the struggle of Tahir’s family,” a student who listened to the speech told the FreePressKashmir over phone. “The atmosphere is highly emotional.”
One of the speakers criticized the police for bringing Tahir for examination hand cuffed. “As per Supreme Court directions, hand cuff can be used in rare cases,” he said. “A person is hand cuffed when there are apprehensions of ‘ultimate danger’ from accused but there is no such case with Tahir.”
Later, he added, the students demanded form the KU officials to look in to the matter. “We are giving a-three-day ultimatum to KU authorities to immediately seek release of Tahir otherwise the students will sit on indefinite strike in the KU campus,” the students said.
When FreePressKashmir contacted the minister for education, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari, for his response to the students’ demand he was “in a meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti”.
It may be noted, Bukhari, recently made his personal cell number and e-mail ID public asking students to register their complaints with him. “Let students contact me on my mobile number 9419043087 or my email id: [email protected],” the Education Minister told Greater Kashmir.
Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which booked the journalism student under PSA, believes that Tahir is a “good person”.
Speaking to FreePressKashmir, former MLA Bandipora, who is currently vice-chairperson of J&K Horticulture Board, Nizam Din Bhat, said, “he (Tahir) should be released.”
“Tahir, a good person, deserves a chance and I have already discussed his case with J&K Home Secretary… they are verifying (the case again),” Bhat said, “but in their (government’s) view, Tahir has played a pivotal role in disturbance (2016 uprising).”