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‘IoK under grip of fear’

SRINAGAR: Shehryar Khanum, the daughter of incarcerated Peoples Democratic Party leader, Naeem Akhter, on Tuesday said her family did not challenge her father’s detention in court as they feared facing “bigger consequences”.

A lawyer by profession, Khanum said New Delhi’s decision to take away J&K’s special status and jail the erstwhile state’s politicians has proven skeptics who viewed the Indian government with suspicion right in Kashmir and that advocates of India have “significantly reduced” in the Valley.

Khanum has been visiting her father regularly since he was detained along with other politicians on August 5. She said there was a “very plausible” reason for her family not moving to the court, referring to the detention of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

“The day his (Abdullah) petition reached the Supreme Court, the government booked him under the PSA. I don’t think he had performed any sort of activity that could be considered a threat to public safety,” said Khanum to The Wire. “It was not a coincidence. I don’t think any one of us wanted that to happen to our families. The action against Dr Farooq Abdullah was the reason every one among us hesitated when it came to taking recourse to legal action. We feared that there could be bigger consequences.”

Abdullah, the three-time J&K chief minister and sitting MP from Srinagar was detained on August 5, the day Centre stripped J&K of its special status. He was later booked under PSA and detained at his Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar. “Our fears aren’t baseless,” said Khanum. “We have an example in him [Abdullah],” she said.

According to Khanum, the detention of the politicians was a loud and clear message to the people of Kashmir that if the government can jail those who have stood by the idea of Kashmir-in-India, then they should absolutely remain silent. “It tells us that we are wrong in thinking that India is a strong democracy and also wrong for believing in that idea of India,” she said.

Khanum stressed on the clear demarcation of ideologies in Kashmir and said there were many people who believed in the idea of India and have sworn allegiance to the Constitution. Today, she said, when the credentials of the same people were questioned, it “basically proves the other side right.”

“Look at the profile of some of these incarcerated people. They have lost immediate family members in this conflict, but they never moved away from the idea of India. Today, the same people are being persecuted by the government,” Khanum said. “Whosoever has said that India doesn’t treat us as their own, I think their ideology has been proven right today,” she added.

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