Srinagar, March 09, 2018 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, the ailing All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori has been languishing in Kathua jail for last over one year under draconian law, Public Safety Act (PSA). Hafeeza Begum, wife of Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori, in a media interview in Sopore said that despite several health problems, he is in Kathua jail under the 10th Public Safety Act of his life.
Hafeeza Begum said that they had never seen happiness in life because of Indian oppression towards the family. “My husband has faced immense hardships from his youth at the hands of forces and even at the tail end of his age, he is in jail,” Hafeeza said.
Khan Sopori’s trysts with lockups began in 1969 not long after the theft of holy relic from the Hazratbal shrine shook entire Kashmir triggering protests and a mass agitation. He was 20 when he was arrested for the first time on charges of being a member of a mujahid organization Al-Fatah. He had begun to take part in anti-India protests during the Holy Relic agitation.
Khan Sopori was sent to Central Jail Srinagar but released after three months. However, Hafeeza said, that soon after his release he was injured in Sopore during anti-India protests which were common those days. In 1974, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League was formed, after different resistance groups joined hands, and Khan Sopori was appointed as district president for Baramulla. The Indira-Abdullah accord in 1975 triggered Valley-wide protests.
Hafeeza said that in one such protest in Sopore, Indian police had resorted to teargas shelling and aerial firing to disperse the protestors and her husband was injured again. His friend Ghulam Muhammad Bulla was arrested and subjected to custodial killing, she said.
In 1976, she said, Khan Sopori was again arrested and sent to Kathua jail for six months. “In 1978 we were about to get married but Khan Sopori was arrested again and was sent to Kud jail from where he was released after two years. Following his release we were married but just after 20 days he was arrested again and sent to Hiranagar jail and was released after two and half years,” Hafeeza said remarking that their families had thought that marriage would bring an end to his jail sojourns, but it continued.
The first PSA on Khan Sopori was slapped in 1990, when, she said, he spent one and a half years in Central Jail, Srinagar, and Hiranagar jail. “In 1994, we migrated to Srinagar just to avoid this oppression but it never ended. In 1998 he was arrested again from our house in Srinagar along with our two sons. After one month my sons were released and Khan Sopori had to undergo an extreme level of third degree torture.”
It was only when Indian forces thought that he might die, they handed over his half dead body to Mohalla head and we shifted him to hospital where it took him three months to recover,” Hafeeza said. “But a couple of days after reaching our home, BSF from Soura arrested him and tortured him again and handed him over to Soura police station where he was slapped with two PSAs one from cargo and another from Soura police and sent to Udhampur jail.”
When he was released in 2001, she said, they again arrested him in the same year and slapped one more PSA and sent him to Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu for two years. In 2006, our home in Chanpora Srinagar was raided by forces and my husband was taken along, she said. “We were unaware about his whereabouts until next month when we came to know that he is lying half dead in police hospital. He was tortured to the level that he didn’t identify his family members for a day but instead of being release, he was shifted to Central Jail and then to Kot Bhalwal jail,” she said.
In 2008, she said, he fell very ill soon after arrest and was released after two months on doctors’ advice. In June 2012, she added, Indian forces seized our house and it remains confiscated till date. In February last year, Khan Sopori was arrested by Sopore police and sinse then he remains in detention and in the meantime he has been booked under the PSA three times. In September, while he was in police lock up after court quashed his PSAs, instead of releasing him, the authorities booked him again accusing him of giving a speech at the funeral of a martyred youth, Qayoom Najar.
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