Though heads of the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, besides senior journalist Iftikhar Gilani, were kept under detention by men in plainclothes in the Capital hours after the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in the Tihar Central Jail here on Saturday, the Delhi Police denied that any such action had been taken.
A spokesperson for the Mirwaiz told The Hindu over telephone that he was detained at his Kalkaji residence. “He had plans to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but the police have put him under house arrest and his mobile phone has been seized,” alleged his aide.
A couple of hours after news about Afzal’s execution broke, men in plainclothes allegedly descended on the first-floor residence of Syed Ali Shah Geelani at Khirki Extension in Malviya Nagar. One of his aides said the mobile phones of Mr. Geelani and his son were seized and Mr. Geelani was forcibly taken to the Apollo Hospital. The Hurriyat leader has been undergoing treatment in a Delhi hospital since December.
Around the same time, men in plainclothes struck at the residence of Mr. Geelani’s son-in-law and senior journalist Iftikhar Gilani.
“I was putting my bag in the car to leave for office around 10.30 a.m. when two persons approached me, asking for Geelani Saab’s house… I told them he lived in another block, at which one of them requested me to accompany them. On the way, they told me they were from the Delhi Police Special Cell. When we reached there, I saw a large number of men in plainclothes. As I started to leave after pointing towards the flat, they grabbed me and virtually dragged me to the first floor where I saw some persons frisking my brother-in-law. Getting an opportunity, I went to the bathroom and sent a message through my phone, following which they seized my mobile phone,” said Mr. Gilani.
Mr. Gilani said his wife was also detained and it was only after repeated requests that he was taken back to his house where he found some persons in the drawing and living rooms. His two children were locked up in the bedroom. It was after protests by some journalists and intervention from the Union Home Ministry that the men in plainclothes left.
“I have no issues with what the government wants to do to maintain law and order. Though Mr. Geelani is my father-in-law, I have repeatedly said I have nothing to do with his politics. I owe my living to journalism for the past two decades in Delhi. It was ridiculous on the part of the authorities to behave like this. I am so scared. I have tried my best to raise my children in an atmosphere of peace and compassion. I have no idea what I should do to prove myself as a peace loving and law abiding citizen,” said Mr. Gilani, who was earlier detained for nine months under the Official Secrets Act before the government withdrew the charge leading to his release.
Lecturer S.A.R. Geelani, who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, also alleged that he was detained by the Special Cell while he was on his way to Jantar Mantar where a demonstration was organised to protest against Afzal’s hanging. He claimed that he was dropped back home at 10 p.m. He alleged that the police had plans to keep him under house arrest.
“I was on my way to Jantar Mantar via Malviya Nagar when I was surrounded by the Special Cell personnel and forced to accompany them and later detained. I am not sure if I am going to be allowed to leave my house in the next few days because I suspect they don’t want me to talk to anyone, especially the media,” Mr. Geelani told The Hindu minutes after he was released from detention.
Mr. Geelani was critical of the secrecy over the execution of Guru: “Afzal’s wife Tabassum came to know of the hanging after I called a little after 7 a.m. Someone from Kashmir had called me to ask if there was any news about his execution as there were rumours doing the rounds in the Valley. The family is shocked because they were not even informed, they heard the news on television. I suspect even Afzal may not have been informed of his execution,” he alleged. Mr. Geelani said the family now wanted the body to be handed over to them. “There is curfew in the Valley and the whole village has been cordoned off, they cannot step out, but they want to claim the body.”