STONES AND SILENCE

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They are the accused stone-pelters. Their trials in the district courts have lingered on while they wait for others, who are facing PSA, to be produced before the judges. SYED ASMA spent a day in a Srinagar court witnessing two collective trials.

Protesters clashing with police in Srinagar

It is a room filled with silence. Pin drop silence!

The judge wearing a spectacle, almost placed on the tip of his nose, is looking into the files keenly and suspending case after case till further orders. Everybody present in this court room has only one question to ask in the end, “woin kar chu asi nov taireek?” (When is our next hearing?)

In the aftermath of the 2010 Kashmir-wide unrest more than 5000 youths were arrested and booked under PSA and various sections of RPC. Some of them are still under trial, while others are out on bail.  In this small silent world, a group of young men too are waiting for their turn, probably waiting to know the next date of their hearing (next taireek).

These well-dressed young men are accused of stone pelting during 2010 unrest. Different challans are presented against them in different district courts, for which they have to attend judicial proceedings. Today, for them, it is the lower court in Srinagar and they are accused of “dangerous stone pelting” and “for not stopping these activities despite repeated CRPF warnings,” their challan reads.

They include 13 boys and all of them are booked under section 149, 148, 147, 332, 336 and 307 of RPC, charges ranging from attempts to murder, rioting armed with deadly weapons and unlawful assembly.  Two of them, Ilyas and Harris are presently lodged in two different jails. Ilyas is detained under PSA in Kotbalwal and Harris in a local police station.

Harris is a pickpocket and was caught red handed recently in a locality, says Saqlain, 22, a school dropout who was hit by a bullet in his back. He cannot remain standing for a long time.. “Harris is just a robber but he too is included with us. Just imagine we have to attend court trials with a robber, a thief,” says Saqlain. A little after he was injured with a bullet, Saqlain received a call from his local SHO who asked him to report to the police station and collect the compensation money for his injury. On reaching the police station he was detained for three months, Saqlain alleges.

It is 11 AM and these eleven young men are waiting in a courtroom to be heard. Their case is listed for the day.

“What do you think, what will happen today?” says one boy to the other in that group. He replies, “Do you expect something to happen?” he laughs, “What do you think; they will get him from Kotbalwal for you? Stop dreaming”.

They [police]didn’t get Ilyas even once for these trials, says Mudasir, 30, one among the accused. It has been six months that the court proceedings against these 13 young men are on. While enquiring about the matter, a top police official directed this reporter to a senior police official in the Police Media Cell, Manoj Pandit. “This is not my jurisdiction. Please give the details of people who are not being produced in the court and then I will be able to tell you the reasons,” said Pandit. “It is a sub-judice matter.”

“If the police haven’t got them in any of the court trails, the court must take a serious note of the matter. The court should first seek an explanation from the concerned police authorities and if they are not able to produce a convincing explanation they can be very well  taken to task,” said a senior advocate wishing not to be identified.

Mudasir was detained for 10 days in his local police station. He was a militant in early 1990’s but now has surrendered, he says. He still is called in the police stations for “useless formalities” and the day he was detained he thought it would be a similar call, he recalls. “I was called by our local SHO and he told me to see him in his office soon. When I went there he said he has an FIR in my name, of being involved in stone pelting and I was detained”.

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About Author

Syed Asma completed her masters in journalism from the Islamic University, Awantipore, in 2010. After working with Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Times, she joined Kashmir Life in February 2011. She covered politics, society, gender issues and the environment. In 2016, she left journalism to pursue her M Phil from the University of Kashmir. She is presently pursuing PhD.

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