Kashmir University last Thursday, a day before anniversary of Shopian ‘double rape and murder’, was different. As the Sun moved overhead, hundreds of students started assembling in front of varsity’s central library, Allama Iqbal (RA) Library. Since last week, some students were campaigning for the ‘commemoration day’. They were seen asking students to ‘speak’! Posters were all around asking students to attend the programme. The students had planned to ‘remember Asiya and Neelofar of Shopian who were first raped and then brutally murdered’ in the intervening night of May29-30 in 2009 in South Kashmir’s Shopian. Kashmir protested the gruesome crime allegedly at the hands of men in uniform. Shopian remained shut for 48 days.
As the afternoon prayers were offered, students put on banners and placards. “War has just begun, we will see through it”, read one of the placards. As the students were sitting in open sun, a female student came forward and in her impeccable English, spoke about the history of the case. She asked students not forget those who have sacrificed their lives for the movement as, another placard read, “Forgetting is a luxury, oppressed cannot afford”.
There were banners of banned Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU). One by one, students came, read poems, Nasheeds and sang ballads in the memory of late Asiya and Neelofar. The programme witnessed massive sloganeering in favour of Azaadi, Hurriyat patriarch Geelani and against India. “First they raped our land, women and now they are raping our thoughts and ideas,” a female speaker said.
The university officials were seen on their toes ‘trying to stop the programme’ but nothing, apparently stopped students to commemorate the Shopian case. “Rape is used as a war weapon by India to demoralize us from fighting the Indian tyranny and muzzle the voices of Freedom,” said another student.
The students in one voice condemned ban on KUSU and ‘vowed to continue work in KU for Kashmir cause’.
The programme came to an end with the singing of Pakistani national anthem. Interestingly ,KU students caused much embarrassment to authorities by not standing up for Indian national anthem on numerous occasions in the past.
A Pakistani lady with her infant baby girl is languishing in Kot Balwal Jail Jammu since 2013 under Public Safety Act, without her required in any case or FIR. Rubeena, 22, a resident of Musa Colony, Hyderabad, Pakistan was arrested by police along with her one-month-old baby in 2013 when she got separated from her husband at ‘some unknown place.’ Rubeena doesn’t know the name of police station where she was taken. Police finally handed over Rubeena to authorities at central jail Kote Balwal Jammu where she was detained under Public Safety Act (PSA).
On October 7, 2013, the state government through home department again issued a PSA order No. Home/PB-V/1305/2013 invoking section 8 (i) b (i) of J&K Public Safety Act 1978 which directed that ‘Rubeena be detained for a period of six months or till the arrangements for her deportation from the state to her native country are made whichever is earlier.’
A habeas corpus petition challenging the order was filed on March 29 this year through Rubeena’s legal counsel Advocate Mir Shafkat Hussain. On April 7, Justice Bansi Lal Bhat hearing the petition directed secretary home department J&K to file the status report with regard to the deportation of Rubeena to her native country within two weeks.
With state failing to file the status report in stipulated time, Justice Hasnain Masoodi hearing the petition on May 12 disposed of the writ petition with direction to the state including Inspector General of Police and CID to take steps for deportation of Rubeena within four weeks.
According to the case records, Rubeena has all along remained away from her family and as result of which has developed depression and psychological disorders. While in prison, Rubeena has developed multiple ailments in heart and kidney. The infant girl, who is almost a year old now, has also remained in custody with her mother, depriving the appropriate environment for the baby.
It must be noted that in its directions laid, Supreme Court of India in WP (Crl) 310/2005 titled as “Prof Bhim Singh V/s U.O.I and others” in its order dated 28/02/2012 has ordered that “foreign prisoners who have completed their sentence or are otherwise awaiting deportation should be kept otherwise than in prison where they are provided with basic human rights.”
While Rubeena waits the period of four weeks for her deportation to Pakistan as directed by the high court, it seems that Rubeena’s ordeal might live longer.
Recently after interacting with youth from across Kashmir, who are facing stone-pelters charges, Farooq has said that their lives are living hell and some sort of amnesty should be granted to them.
Interesting, after recent drubbing in Lok Sabah elections NC has turned ‘pro-people’ by throwing open its doors for people to register their grievances. After introspection the CM Omar Abdullah has gone in to massive damage control mode. He reversed most of government’s decisions taken during last five years.
According to insiders Omar five year of rule saw some major events happening that alienated people from the party. During last five years hundreds of youth from across the valley were booked under controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) for their alleged participation in anti-India protest and stone-pelting. It has become a major challenge for Omar government to curb or crush stone-pelting that became a way of showing dissent after 2008 Amarnath Land row. But there was hardly any talk of amnesty to stone-pelters all these years, instead state government dealt with youngsters involved in stone-pelting with iron fist.
Interestingly, in run-up to the parliamentary elections around 700 youth were detained as a preventive measure and some of them are still locked up in police custody. But then elections results change everything.
State Human Rights Commission this week woke up to the miserable economic plight of the religious clerics in the valley. The commission asserted that Wakf Board must pay minimum salary to the persons employed by them for leading prayers or doing other incidentary jobs in mosques on full time basis across the valley.
Enforcing the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court to protect the life and dignity of individuals, Commission recommended that Imams should be paid a monthly salary of Rs 12,000 and Naib-Imam should be given Rs 10,000 while Muezzin should be remunerated at Rs 8,000 per month.
Commissions took a strong note of the functioning of the Wakf authorities reprimanding them for their failures to evolve a concerted policy which can cater to the needs of its employees. Comparing its performance with the Wakf Boards operating in other states where Muslims are in minority, the commission castigated the management for its lackadaisical approach towards employees. Commission informed that wakf boards constituted in other states have initiated several other measures like establishing of colleges and universities besides catering to the needs of clerics. However in the state of J&K, Wakf Board begs on the eve of Ramadan and other occasions, collecting money to be paid to the Imams, the commission rued.
Further the commission rebuked Wakf Board for employing the retired bureaucrats on political considerations.