Kashmiris beg and borrow to meet relatives detained in Uttar Pradesh 

Poor Kashmiris find it hard to arrange for money to visit ‘distant’ Uttar Pradesh where family members booked under the stringent PSA are detained

Nazir Ahmad Khan (left) whose son is in a UP jail, Zamrooda (right) whose son is lodged in Agra Jail 
Nazir Ahmad Khan (left) whose son is in a UP jail, Zamrooda (right) whose son is lodged in Agra Jail

Mudassir Kuloo

Hours after the Government abrogated Article 370, policemen barged into Mushtaq Ahmad Khushoo’s house and dragged out his younger son Asif (22). “The local police station informed that Asif had been sent to Central Jail Srinagar. When we reached there, we were told that Asif was shifted to Agra Jail,” recalls his mother Zamrooda.

“I and my husband met our son once for 20 minutes at Agra Jail in October. Our travel and accommodation cost us Rs 20,000. Since then we haven’t met him because we don’t have money to travel,” she informs. Suffering from multiple ailments, she craves to meet her son but has no idea when she will be able to arrange the money to make the trip.

In the last week of January, a Srinagar resident whose relative is also lodged in Agra Jail visited the family. “I met your son in Agra Jail who gave me your address. He (Asif) told me to convey you that he is short of money. He also asked for blankets and warm clothes and wanted to meet the family,” the visitor said.

The family is seeking monetary help from people. “I am not able to sleep. We have to arrange around Rs 25,000 for travel and accommodation in Agra,” she said.

The family has appealed to the government to shift their son to Central Jail in Srinagar, where they could regularly meet him.

Asif, a class VIII drop out who sold shoes, has been booked under the Public Safety Act to “maintain law and order”.

Ateeqa Bano is another Kashmiri mother whose son is behind bars for the last six months. These days she lives alone in a two-storied muddy house. Her husband died a decade ago. Her son Faisal Mir (30) is a businessman and the lone bread earner of the family. He was arrested on August 5, booked under the Public Safety Act and shifted to Uttar Pradesh.

“I have never travelled outside Kashmir. I have not seen him since August 5. I have no reason to live but am alive only for my son,” she sobs, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“I was unwell. My son had gone out to buy medicines for me. I pleaded him not to go as there was curfew outside, but he did not relent. When he failed to return, I feared the worst. One of his friends visited in the evening and informed that Faisal was picked up by the police,” she recalled.

Ateeqa has also appealed to the government to shift Faisal to Central Jail Srinagar.

Momin Nazir (22), son of Nazir Ahmad Khan, was also picked up from home. He was kept at Srinagar’s Central Jail for a few days and later shifted to a prison in Uttar Pradesh. Nazir too is not able to meet his son because of family’s financial constraints.

“My son was a mason. His arrest has shattered the family,” says Nazir.

The dossier booking Momin under PSA read, “You came to the adverse notice in police records since long owing to your involvement in anti-national activities which are aimed at disturbing the public tranquility and peace in Rajbagh and its adjacent areas. You have been found indulging in disturbing the maintenance of public order by way of resorting to stone pelting which in turn disturbed the movement of traffic and stalling the business activities in the area.”

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