Chairman Muslim Deeni Mahaz Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo will complete 26 years of imprisonment on Tuesday, February 5.
According to a statement issued by Muslim Deeni Mahaz (MDM), languishing in prison for the past 26 years, Dr Fakhtoo was arrested in February 1993 and slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) first, and then subsequently awarded a lifer by the Supreme Court in January 2003.
In 1985, the J&K police had sought applications from youths for recruitment as sub-inspectors. Qasim also appeared in the selection test for the post.
Dr Muhammad Qasim was born in Zaldagar, Srinagar on November 13, 1967. He is married to Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chief Aasiya Andrabi. He has a doctorate in Islamic Studies and has authored and edited 19 books (5 in English and 14 in Urdu).
He joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 1989 as its spokesperson. He was first arrested in on February 5, 1993, and booked under section 3 (TADA), under section 302 r/w 120-B RPC in connection with the murder of HN Wanchoo. After six years of imprisonment, Dr Qasim was granted bail in March 1999 but re-arrested in February 2000. He was acquitted by the TADA Court in July 2001.
“In 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of involvement in the murder of a Pandit activist, Hriday Nath Wanchoo who was killed in 1992, a charge denied by Qasim,” the statement said.
The statement said that the double bench of Supreme Court in its judgment had directed that Dr Qasim and other accused in the case be given the benefit of the period already undergone (undertrial period) by them. Dr Qasim challenged his detention and the court directed the government to review his case. The Government challenged the acquittal in the Supreme Court which sentenced him to life imprisonment with this direction at the end of the judgment: On June 3, 2008, the government constituted a Review Board comprising then DGP Prisons and Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar, Hasnain Massodi, to consider Qasim’s release under the provision of J&K Jail Manual 2000. But the CID opposed the recommendations quoting rule 54.1 of Jail Manual which debars TADA lifer convicts from release on completion of two thirds (14 years) of 20 years. However, Dr Qasim challenged his detention in the High Court seeking directions as per the review board’s recommendation.
“The High Court quashed the impugned order and directed the government to consider the case on the basis of the Jammu and Kashmir Jail Manual,” the statement said. However, since then, the fate of his release continues to hang in balance. During his 26 year imprisonment, he has written more than 20 books on religious, social and political topics. His six books are in English and 15 in Urdu.”