Arrested while in the first year of graduation way back in 2013, a young man has cleared his graduation, acquired a law degree and is pursuing masters in political science, reports Umar Mukhtar
On December 3 morning, Bashir Ahmad Dar, a resident of Sopore heard about the results of the LLB programme at the University of Kashmir. He experienced a rush of mixed emotions: Among the candidates whose result was announced was Feroz Ahmad, 28, his younger son, who has been in jail for the last seven years.
Ahmad was arrested in 2013 in a militancy-related case. “He was in the first year of his graduation when he was arrested,” said Dar, Ahmad’s father.
Back then, during the intervening night of April 17 and 18, Dar’s house was raided by the army and police. They asked for Ahmad, who was not at home at that time.
“He was in Srinagar to get some study material,” said Dar. Dars’ were locked in a single room while their house was thoroughly searched. Dar said that his elder son who was at home was assaulted.
After hours of searching, the forces left the house, but he was told to present his son the following day at the SOG camp Sopore. “I called my son and told him about the incident. I also asked him to come home early,” Dar said.
The following day, Ahmad reached home early.
Dar along with a neighbour, a retired tehsildar took his son to the SOG camp. “My son had no idea why he was asked to report there. In fact, he told me that it would be some misconception that they were looking for him,” said Dar.
Ahmad was detained and his father was asked to wait outside.
“We were told that they have to ask something to my son and would release him in some time. We waited outside the camp for the whole day, but my son was not released,” Dar said.
According to Dar, his son was very much focused on his studies. “He wanted to be a doctor but he could not qualify for it.”
Soon after Ahmad was detained, he was sent to Baramulla jail. His father and his relatives used to meet him there. For the first year of his incarceration, Ahmad was shying away from everything and used to talk to his father about the process of his release only. But with time as Ahmad accepted his fate and knew that he would not be released anytime soon, he asked his father to deposit his form so that he could pursue his graduation.
Dar, who is not literate had to take the help of other people to deposit his forms and seek permission from the authorities. “Seeking permission from the authorities was really an uphill task. That too for a man like me who does not know how to read and write. At times I used to take my relatives along and sometimes used to get help from the strangers.”
However, despite all odds, Ahmad did not give up on his studies. In 2016, he passed his BSc from Baramulla jail and simultaneously completed his Diploma in Human Rights from IGNOU.
“I was worried that jail will ruin his academic career but my son showed courage and steadfastness. He did what he was best at,” Dar said.
There are many such examples where youth were arrested, put behind bars, and acquitted after decades. They are then in no position to start their careers again. Their education and families are affected. In a recent example, a person was acquitted after 23 years. He lost everything including his family members over the years.
Later, Ahmad was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar.
After completing his graduation, Ahmad opted for the law. He started studying law and got his admissions in LLB at the University of Kashmir. Finally, in the year 2020, Ahmad cleared his degree in the second division.
The news of Ahmad’s clearing his law exam has made Dars’ happy. All of their relatives and neighbours are coming to Dar’s home and wish them.
But Dar doesn’t know which degrees his son has secured, he just knows that these degrees would at least somewhat help him once he will be a free man.
“I know his hard work will not let him be dependent on others,” Dar said. “Though I am happy that my son made me proud despite being in jail but his health has deteriorated over the years due to torture. That is killing me inside. He cannot stand on his own; he has to take help of a walking stick to get to his feet”.
Not only his health but his incarceration has taken a financial toll on the family. Dar was a class IV employee in a government department. He retired a year after his son was arrested.
“After my retirement, I spend all my savings to get him released, but till now I could not get him out,” Dar said in a broken voice.
Ahmad’s mother has also developed heart ailments. “I do not remember a single day when she is not talking about Ahmad. She cries and wants to see her son again. This condition has wrecked her health,” said Dar.
He added that most of his savings are spent fighting her son’s case. Ahmad is now pursuing his Master’s in political science through IGNOU.
The family members of Ahmad have appealed the LG Manoj Sinha and police department to show some mercy on their son.