Raising cost of resistance

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The state, it seems, can not run out of ideas. The police have suddenly become aware of its sealing powers, and is putting it to effective use to seize houses of separatists and those suspected of links to militancy. Those on the receiving end find themselves on the road, and others feel a new fear. Shah Abbas reports.

Photo by: Bilal Bahadur

 

Last week, Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori, once an established businessman of Sopore, was on streets protesting over the seizure of his Srinagar home by police. Similar actions were carried out in other places also. The state it seems has decided to treat separatists with a separation from their houses.

Khan is an older face in Kashmir’s separatist movement. He heads the Peoples League; a constituent of Syed Ali Geelani led Hurriyat Conference. With his aged wife, daughter and three sons, Sopori has temporarily shifted to his brother’s residence in Sopore after the police sealed his Chanepora home in Srinagar.

The seizure orders were issued by former Police Chief Kuldip Khuda on May 18 after he received a formal request from the Investigating officer of a case (FIR 84/2006) registered with police station Nawgam under section 120 B (hatching criminal conspiracy) and 489 C (dealing illegal currency) and 7/25 A (Indian Arms Act, dealing with possession of weapons illegally) RPC besides 140A Unlawful Activities Act. The Investigating officer, a Deputy SP rank officer had written (SDPO/W/12/3392-95) as early as May 3 that “Khan has earned huge amount by acting as a conduit to the banned Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami (militant outfit) and acquired a house at Maisuma Colony in Chanepora Srinagar”.

On June 30, the family was marshaled out and the property seized – the first normal day after five days of disturbances over the destruction of Dastgheer Shrine. With part of their belonging in the hurriedly stuffed bags, the family would sit outside their seized home – a brick and mortar, 8 rooms structure. After bidding adieu to neighbors, Khan’s left for Paratap Park to narrate his story to journalists at the Press Colony.

Khan Sopori squarely rejects the accusations against hm. “I was never related to militancy but whenever police arrested me they framed me in fake militancy cases,” Sopori said. “They are pressurizing me to give away my political stand on Kashmir”. He said 45 years of torture could not force him to make changes in his political stand and now “it is the last resort and they dislodged me from our legal property.”

Sopori says that a team of police and civil administration officials first served him the order to leave on June 15. It was utter disbelief for him. “I was shocked when police officers, SDM, Tehsildar and scores of uniformed men and women landed at my home and asked me to leave.” He was given two days and later seven but he pleaded that it was not possible for him to manage any alternative residence.

On June 21, they came again and tried to dislodge him but locals intervened. He got time till June 25. When they came again on June 30, nothing could save him and he along with his family found himself out on the streets. “It was a very painful movement for me, when I was outside the house with my wife and children and the uniformed men along with some civil administration officers were sealing even private things of my family members”. The house, Sopori said was built by his sons in 2008 and has three marla’s of land that his wife acquired in 1997 for Rs 175 thousands. “When the house was built, I was in jail.” Sopori is moving the court against the action.

After his symbolic sit-in protest in the press colony, Sopori left for Sopore, the town he had fled in 1994 after selling his house there. “My migration”, Sopori said, “was the outcome of oppression”.

The forces, he said, set ablaze my four shops in Sopore in 1990 and 1992. “I went for prayers and the forces set my shop on fire. They even tried to kill my sons Sajad and Feroz by stopping them from coming out of the fire but a Sikh CRPF man secretly saved them by bringing them out”, recalls Sopori.

In Srinagar, they rented spaces till they landed on the 816 sq ft plot where they built a shed and later a house. It was repaired after 2005 earthquake.

Sopori is 65. He heads his own faction of the Peoples League, one of the oldest separatist groupings. “We set up the League in 1973-74 and I am affiliated with it since then,” said Khan who was arrested for the first time in 1970 when he was just 16. “I have spent 15 to 17 years in jails.” He does not

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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