The Valley’s well-known legal expert and columnist Sheikh Showkat was removed from the post of the principal of the Kashmir Law College, Srinagar, on Monday apparently for his ideological position on the Kashmir issue.
Meanwhile, days after his bail, Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan, who was arrested for four years, has been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and re-arrested in Srinagar.
The management of the Kashmir Law College, Srinagar, has started a fresh process to appoint a new principal, officials said. The college management, however, is silent on the sudden decision.
Sources close to Dr. Showkat confirmed that he was asked to discontinue as the law college’s principal. However, they said the college management cited age-related ineligibility as the reason behind the decision and not his ideological position.
A statement being attributed to the college management described Dr. Showkat as “a hard-liner ideologue of Pakistan-backed separatist organisations”. Despite repeated attempts, The Hindu could not get a response from the college.
The participation of Dr. Showkat, who remains a vocal voice on the subject of Kashmir, in a convention titled ‘Azadi - The Only Way’ at the Press Club of India, New Delhi in 2016 is also cited as the reason behind the decision. The convention was also attended by Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, author Arundhati Roy and SAR Geelani.
“He [Dr. Showkat] was one among others who delivered an anti-India speech at the convention and anti-India slogans were also raised [in the audience],” according to the college statement, issued to local wire services in Kashmir.
The Delhi police had registered an FIR under Sections 124 A (sedition), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) then.
“The administration has started a discreet process of ascertaining full details of the antecedents and past activities of Dr. Showkat, who as per assessment was secretly in touch with elements of secessionist and terrorist networks to assist them in building up and sustain a false narrative that no good can happen until Jammu and Kashmir is part of India,” the statement, quoted by the wire services, said.
Dr. Showkat is a known legal expert and author of many books on Kashmir. He has been a regular face in conferences on the Kashmir issue held in Delhi and other parts of the country by think tanks and non-governmental organisations in the past.
Shifted to Jammu
Meanwhile, the authorities have booked journalist Asif Sultan under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), days after a court granted him bail after four years of imprisonment.
Sources said Sultan, an assistant editor with the now-closed magazine Kashmir Narrator, has been shifted to the Kot Balwal jail in Jammu.
He was arrested on August 27, 2018 and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for “harbouring militants, aiding and participating in militancy”. However, Sultan’s organisation and his family have refuted these charges.
Earlier, news portal ‘Kashmir Walla’ reporter Sajad Gul and editor Fahad Shah were booked under the PSA and continue to remain behind bars.
The Journalist Federation of Kashmir has termed the continued imprisonment of “award-winning journalist Sultan under the PSA as another blow to press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir where the situation for the media has become extremely difficult”.
“Sultan spent 1,318 days in jail, which included his time as an undertrial. When a special court granted him bail on April 5 he was not released,” it said.