Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmiri man jailed for saying ‘can’t have expectations from non-local officers’

Ganderbal: A 50-year-old man from Safapora area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district was jailed for “promoting enmity” after he told the JK Lieutenant Governor’s advisor that he has no expectations from officers who are not locals, reports said.

As per the report, the man identified as Sajad Rashid Sofi of Wani Mohalla Safapora has been booked under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.) for his remarks. Sajad made the comment during the interaction of locals with the JK Lieutenant Governor’s advisor, Baseer Ahmad Khan, at Mansbal in Ganderbal district on June 10.

Quoting the police report filed in a local court in Ganderbal, the report said Sajad, who was part of a civil society delegation, while addressing  advisor Khan, said, “I have expectations of you because you are a Kashmiri and can understand. And I can catch hold of your collar and can seek answers from you but what expectations can I have from non-state officers?”

The comment has reportedly displeased the Ganderbal deputy commissioner Krittika Jyotsna who is from Uttar Pradesh, The Wire reported. Jyotsna, according to the police report, took strong exception to the remarks and got up from her chair to object.

An official handout released by J&K’s Information Department on June 10 states that on the day, the advisor, after reviewing the functioning of Manasbal Development Authority, met several delegations including BDCs, transporters, traders, civil society members and religious leaders from Safapora, who spoke to him about their grievances, the report said.

The report quoting locals, said on the day when Sajad uttered these remarks, he was summoned by the local Station House Officer to appear before a top police officer.

“The local SHO accompanied him to the officer’s at around 3.30 pm. He was brought to the Safapora police station from SSP office at around 7.30 pm and was released at around 8.30 pm,” The Wire quoted, a local who requested anonymity fearing reprisal from administration, as saying.

He said that at 10 pm, Sajad again got a call to appear at the Safapora police station.

“He went to police station Safapora and cops lodged an FIR against him in the intervening night of June 10 and 11,” he said, adding that he was kept at the Safapora police station for three days, until when this report was published.

He said police did not release him even when the court granted him interim bail. “We have been told that he has been additionally booked under sections 107 and 151 of the IPC,” the local was quoted as saying in the report.

Under sections 107 and 151 IPC, an executive magistrate can order preventive detention of a person in apprehension of breach of peace.

The court of the Ganderbal Chief Judicial Magistrate on Saturday, June 12, granted interim bail to Sajad Ahmad Reshi up to June 21, 2021 .

“Needless to mention that bail is a rule and its rejection is an exception. Bail in non-bailable crime cannot be refused without assigning strong reason although bail is a discretion of the court and discretion of bail cannot be exercised arbitrarily,” the judge said, according to the report.

“The alleged committed crime attributed to the applicant does not carry life imprisonment or death penalty debarring this court to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant. As such, this court has a sufficient reason to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant,” reads the order passed by the judge.

Meanwhile, the CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami termed the incident as “unwarranted, uncalled for and brazen violation of the fundamental rights” of people.

In a statement issued, Tarigami said fifty-year-old Sajad Rashid Sofi of Safapora in Ganderbal has been reportedly booked for his comment made during an interaction of locals with the J&K Lieutenant Governor’s Advisor, Baseer Ahmad Khan on the directions of Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre.

“He (Sofi) was part of a delegation which had gone to meet LG’s Advisor to demand a degree college in Safapora. If such incidents happen during the reach out programme of the LG administration, it can create a sense of fear among the people instead of solving their grievances,” the statement said.

“Such an attitude of the officer is highly authoritarian and detrimental to the larger interests of not only people, but to administration itself. It damages and dents the credibility of the institution the officer represents,” Tarigami said.

He said that police did not release him even when the court granted him interim bail as he has been reportedly booked additionally under sections 107 and 151 of the IPC. “This is a brazen misuse of power and authority besides amounting to violation of fundamental rights of a citizen.”

He urged upon JK LG Manoj Sinha to intervene in the matter personally and ensure that the man is not only released immediately but action under law is taken against the erring officer for misuse of power and authority.


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