‘I am not a free man’: Saifuddin Soz claims he is under house arrest

The government lied to the Supreme Court. If I am a free man, then allow me to leave the premises, screamed Mr. Soz from behind the gate.

July 30, 2020 01:22 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 12:38 pm IST - Srinagar

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz tries to speak to reporters outside his residence on Thursday.

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz tries to speak to reporters outside his residence on Thursday.

Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Saifuddin Soz on Thursday scaled a tall pillar of his gate at Srinagar’s Friends Colony, even as policemen kept warning him against doing so, to make a point that he remained “under house arrest without any formal orders” since August 5 last year.

The scene outside the residence of Mr. Soz remains one of a jail. The policemen on guard do not open the gates. The media men are shooed away and warned of consequences if they do not leave the place. Mr. Soz, eager to talk to the media, scaled the pillar of the gate but his interaction was cut short by the policeman, who warned of action.

 

“The government lied to the Supreme Court. If I am a free man, then allow me to leave the premises. I am not a free man. These policemen are saying they have orders from the top,” screamed Mr. Soz from behind the gate.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Soz said he was never allowed to venture out without the permission of the police.

“I did meet my ailing sister twice and visited Delhi for medical check-ups twice since August 5, 2019, but only after seeking formal permission from the police, that too in October and December. On many occasions, I was denied permission. I remain under house arrest without any formal orders,” Mr. Soz said.

Mr. Soz said he would put all these facts before the top court. “I am surprised how the SC [Supreme Court] accepted what was told to it. I am surprised that even in a habeas corpus, the SC gives more than a month’s time to the government. It did not consider my age and urgency of the matter. I am 80 years old. It left me frustrated,” Mr. Soz said.

 

He said the measures of the government had “affected my democratic life”. “Only when this regime goes, the people will get to assess the damage done to institutions,” he added.

The former Union Minister said he had faith in the “twin Constitutions of India and J&K”.

“Within the limits of these two Constitutions, the civil liberties suspended since August 5 last year should be restored,” Mr. Soz said.

He said Kashmir was the only place in India where ideas were not allowed to be expressed. “There is suffocation. I have remorse when the boys get killed. They are not terrorists but minds with unease,” he said.

He said it pained him to see judges of the Supreme Court praise the Prime Minister. “A judge has to be impartial in the chair. A PM should not matter to him. He should go by the book. During this regime, the institutions have become very weak,” he added.

The J&K administration on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that Mr. Soz “is free and not under detention”.

The top court, hearing a petition by Mr. Soz’s wife asking for his release from “illegal detention”, accepted the administration’s statement and closed the case.

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