Responding to the news of a man in Kashmir being jailed on charges of “promoting enmity” after he told the J&K Lieutenant Governor’s advisor that he has no expectations from non-state officers, political parties have termed the arrest unwarranted and have sought his release.
“I haven’t come across a worse reason to detain a person and I was detained for encouraging people to vote so that’s saying something. It’s unacceptable that a person should be jailed for expressing a totally harmless opinion. This is what happens when bureaucratic power is unbridled,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah said.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) secretary Mohammad Yousuf Taragami termed the move as a “brazen misuse of power”.
“Police did not release the person even after court granted him interim bail as he has reportedly been booked under additional Sections (107 and 151) of the IPC. This is a brazen misuse of power amounting to violation of fundamental rights of a citizen,” Taragami said.
He also urged J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to intervene in the matter and ensure that the man is released immediately and also demanded for action to be taken against the officers responsible for the incident.
Police booked 52-year-old Sajad Rashid Sofi under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.) after he told Basheer Ahmad Khan, the J&K LG’s advisor that since he was a Kashmiri he could seek answers from him but he has no expectations from non-state officers.
Sofi made the comment during an event when locals interacted with Khan in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on June 10.
The deputy commissioner of Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna, took exception to Sofi’s remarks and on June 10 an FIR was lodged against him and he was arrested. Police have not released Sofi despite a court granting him bail. After he received bail in the case, police arrested and booked him under sections 107 and 151 of the IPC.
Jyotsna is an IAS officer of the 2014 batch of the Uttar Pradesh cadre and was sent to J&K on inter-cadre deputation on February 8, 2021, for a period of two years along with her husband Rahul Pandey, who is also an IAS officer. Pandey, who is an additional secretary in J&K’s Raj Bhavan, holds the key portfolio of Information Director, Archives and Archelogy, and Academy of Culture and Arts.
The police refused to talk about the issue. “I have no version and nothing to say in this case,” said a senior police officer of the district.
Jammu & Kashmir has been under Central rule since June 2018, when after the BJP withdrew its support from the PDP-BJP alliance headed by Mehbooba Mufti. In August 2019, the BJP bifurcated the J&K state into two Union Territories after the abrogation of Article 370. Since then, many allege that bureaucracy is enjoying unrestricted powers in J&K.
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