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Arrest of Kashmir trader for remarks at meeting condemned

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The Peoples Conference and CPI(M) on Tuesday sought intervention of the J&K Lieutenant Governor and demanded the release of a Ganderbal resident, who remains under arrest since June 10 for his remarks that “he did not expect much from the non-local officers” during a public meeting, chaired by L-G’s adviser Baseer Ahmad Khan.

The police booked Sajad Ahmad Sofi, 50, a local trader from Ganderbal’s Safapora area, under Section 153-A (promoting enmity) for his remarks made in front of Deputy Commissioner Krittika Jyotsna, an IAS officer. Ms. Jyotsna, an officer from Uttar Pradesh, was posted on deputation to J&K on February 8, 2021 along with her husband Rahul Pandey, also of the IAS, who works in the L-G’s office.

The police took suo motu cognisance of the remarks wherein Mr. Sofi said he had expectations from Mr. Khan “because he was a Kashmiri”.

“I can grab you (Mr. Khan) by the collar to seek answers. What expectations, however, can I have from the officers who are outsiders,” Mr. Sofi allegedly said, during the ‘public darbar’ aimed at addressing public grievances instantly.

‘Bureaucrat hurt’

Mr. Sofi’s family alleged that he was jailed again despite being granted a bail on June 12 and booked under Sections 107 and 105 of the IPC. Seeking his preventive detention, the police told the court that Mr. Sofi indulged in “loose talk” and “hurt” the senior non-local bureaucrat.

“There was reasonable apprehension that he will create a law and order situation,” a senior police officer said.

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami on Tuesday termed the arrest as “unwarranted, uncalled for and brazen violation of the fundamental rights of people”.

“He (Sofi) was a part of a delegation to demand a degree college in Safapora. If such incidents happen during the reach out programme of the L-G administration, it can create a sense of fear. Such an attitude of the officer is highly authoritarian and detrimental. It only damages and dents the credibility of the institution the officer represents,” Mr. Tarigami said.

He said the police decision not to release him despite the interim bail “was a brazen misuse of power and authority”.

“I urged upon J&K L-G Shri Manoj Sinha to intervene in the matter personally and ensure that the man is not only released immediately, but action under law is taken against the erring officer for misuse of power and authority,” he said.

‘Stifling voices’

Peoples Conference (JKPC) spokesman Adnan Ashraf Mir said such an action reflected the state of affairs in J&K.

“The action is a direct assault on democratic principles and goes on to relay the hopeless and scary picture. Slapping him with severe charges is a step towards demolishing the democratic institutions and stifling voices,” he said.

He said the onus is on the L-G to uphold democracy in J&K. “He has to let the babus know that people are supreme in a democracy,” he added.


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 6:38:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/arrest-of-kashmir-trader-for-remarks-at-meeting-condemned/article34822448.ece

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