Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s sister and daughter were among a dozen women arrested by J&K Police Tuesday, after preventing them from holding a sit-in to protest the Centre’s August 5 decision to scrap the state’s special status and bifurcate J&K into two Union Territories.
All the women, including social activists and members of civil society, were booked under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — preventive custody — and shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail.
Those arrested include Abdullah’s sister Suraya Abdullah, his daughter Safiya Abdullah, Delhi-based activist Sushoba Bharve. Also arrested were Hawa Bashir, the wife of former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir Bashir Ahmad Khan, retired Kashmir University media coordinator Muslim Jan and activist Qurat-ul-Ain besides others.
“We have taken them into the preventive custody,” SP East, Dawood Ahmad told The Indian Express.
In the morning, as a group of women started to assemble at Srinagar’s Pratap Park, the J&K Police arrived and drove them out of the park. And as soon the women displayed placards, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) women personnel bundled them into police vehicles. After detaining them at the Kothibagh police station for several hours, the women were arrested and sent to the Central Jail.
“We were here for a silent sit-in protest. They (government) say that Kashmiris are happy (over scrapping of special status). We were here to say that we are not happy,” said Hawa Bashir before she was bundled into a police vehicle. “As we were trying to assemble, they closed all the doors (of the public park). Is this democracy?”
Placards displayed at the protest included ‘Kashmiri brides are not for sale’, ‘Resist to Exist’, ‘Release All Detainees’ and ‘Respect Fundamental Rights’. Many were snatched by police minutes after they arrived at the park.
At the police station, the 13 arrested women were booked under Section 107 (preventive custody) and shifted to Central Jail. A medical examination of those arrested women was also conducted at the JLNM Hospital in Rainawari.
In a statement issued at the time of their arrest, the women said they are individuals from different fields and “disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the government of Indian to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“We feel betrayed, humiliated and violated as people,” the statement read. “We demand restoration of civil liberties and fundamental rights of citizens. We demand demilitarisation of rural and urban areas. We demand the immediate release of detainees, We express our outrage against the national media for their false/misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir”.
The National Conference condemned the detention of their party chief’s sister and daughter, describing the move as unprecedented and against people’s right to peaceful protest.
“Being kin of the former chief minister should not entail political victimisation, leading to curtailment of liberty and freedom of movement and speech,” said National Conference leaders in a joint statement.
They regretted the continued detention of political leaders and common citizens, saying the situation has now touched such depths that even the liberty of relatives of those in public life is under severe threat.