SRINAGAR: The group of Kashmiri women who protested against the abrogation of Article 370 was formally arrested under section 107 CrPC for breach of peace and violating public order. Officials said they were shifted to Central Jail Srinagar.
The detained include Suraya Matoo, sister of Dr Farooq Abdullah and Safiya, his daughter. Others who were part of the protest include Hawa Basheer, wife of retired Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan, Quratulain and many others. Interestingly, activist Sushiba Barve of the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) was also rounded up.
This was the first protest by any civil society group against the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir ever since the decision was made on August 5 with the passage of a law. The Jammu and Kashmir reorganization bill that was passed by both houses of the parliament downgraded the status of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to two union territories. Kashmir has been reeling under a mix of restrictions, curfew and voluntary strike since then. The protest came a day after the government switched on the post-paid cell phones almost after 72 days.
The protesting women were attempting to sit on a, what they said, peaceful sit-in on the Moulana Azad Road. A posse of lady police and CRPF personnel quickly reached the spot and arrested them. They were taken to the Kothibagh police station in two police vehicles.
“We wanted to say that there are people saying that Kashmir is happy,” Hawa Bashir, told reporters. “We are unhappy over what was done to Kashmir. We want them to talk to is and discus it and understand why we are unhappy.”
“We wanted to sit silently with placards,” another lady protester said. “As soon as we started, the police came asking us dozens of questions, about the permissions. Is this democracy?”
“They are saying it is normal. Whatever is happening in last two and a half months is not normal,” Suraya Matoo said. “They must restore civil liberties.”
The police drove them to the police station Kothibagh. An hour later, police sources said, they were driven to the Central Jail Srinagar.
NC MP, Justice (retired) Husnain Masoodi said the 13 women were purely a civil society groups and close relatives of his party leaders in the protest does not make it an NC event. “There were doctors and teachers and they all did it on their own,” Masoodi said. “The government should not have arrested them.” He said they were peaceful and they were women and the government should have taken care of it.”
“Legal action has been initiated against them. They were produced before a magistrate, who sent them to the Central Jail,” The Hindu quoted Deputy Inspector General V.K. Birdi as having said.
Meanwhile, the National Conference (NC) condemned the detention of sister and daughter of the party president Dr Farooq Abdullah, describing the move as “unprecedented and against people’s right to peaceful protest”.
“Being kin of the former Chief Ministers should not entail political victimisation, leading to curtailment of liberty and freedom of movement and speech,” senior NC leaders said in a joint statement, issued from Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here this afternoon.
The NC leaders regretted continued detention of political leaders and common citizens, saying “the situation has now touched such lowest depths that even the liberty of the relatives of those in public life is under severe threat”.
“The detention of Suraya Mattoo and Safiya Abdullah Khan, sister and daughter, respectively, of Dr Farooq Abdullah, reflect sad state of affairs the state has been in for the past nearly 70 days,” they alleged.