13 PSAs and the Unending Fight of a Brother For Justice

October 22

Peerzada Muhammad Ashraf, 35, the prime accused in a grenade blast incident of 2004 has spent over 12 years in Jail—for the family, however the road to justice still continues to remain far from reality.

The family while speaking to The Kashmiriyat said that despite the bail order of Principal Session Judge’s bail, Ashraf continues to languish in jail for the past fourteen years.

Ashraf, son of Peerzada Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Batagund Verinag, was arrested on December 2006 in connection with a grenade attack that had occurred on 19-07-2004 during a government-sponsored health Mela at Kapran Verinag area of South Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district, in which Chief Engineer R&B, including two civilians and some policemen also lost their life.

Ashraf was a student of the 3rd year in UG course at Boys Degree College Khanabal, Besides which, he used to work as a daily wager in the Roads and Buildings department.

The irony is that the prime accused in the case, Syed Murtaza—who was picked up from his home by the police three days after this incident was jailed for two years and later granted bail.

“Ashraf was booked under 13 PSAs and was arrested under frivolous offences even though he has been granted bail in 2011, he continues to be under detention,” his brother told The Kashmiriyat.

The trial that started in 2006, went on till 2011 at Principal session judge district court Islamabad (Anantnag), all the witnesses deposed their statements before the court, however, they could not recognize Ashraf as the one involved in this attack.

Several other eyewitnesses, mostly government officials of that time also did not identify Ashraf as being involved, following which he was instantly granted bail by the judge on 11-05-2011. Around 20 witnesses presented their statement in front of the judge that day, all in his favour.

His brother Firdous Ahmed was also booked under two consecutive Public Safety Acts under Arms Act, 7/25, he was kept under detention for more than two years.

“My brother was slapped under 13 PSAs, which were quashed by the High court of Srinagar,” he said.

Ashraf was charged under FIR no. 305 2011, PS Anantnag, under sections 144, 1407, 148, 336, 120 B RPC, on charges of stone Pelting, despite being in the jail for more than 12 consecutive years, however he was provided bail in the case on 21-09-2011.

He was also booked in a case in 2008 at PS Ang when he was in jail, however in this case also he was granted bail.

“The Police did not free our brother, so we approached the state Home department where principal secretary R K Goyal and Shahnaza Dilshad as Secretary revoked the PSAs and directed the police to release Ashraf on 18-08-2011 under order no. Home pb-V/1809/2011, however he was not released,” his brother said.

Ashraf’s father, who was an Imam (preacher) at a local Jamia Masjid, Batagund Verinag, fell ill due to the long detention of his innocent son. He died a few months after falling ill, expecting that his son would return before his death.

We appealed the Police to free our brother, however he was not even allowed to see the face of his father or be part of his funeral prayers,” his brother told The Kashmiriyat.

Peerzada Firdous Ahmed said that his only job is to make rounds of courts on charges of militancy. “For the past many years, i have been in courts only, knocking at every door, looking for justice if it exists anywhere, from freezing morning to humid days, i have been at the court, looking for justice, but i have found nothing,” his brother told The Kashmiriyat.

He said when he started coming to the court, he had no beard, now my beard has started growing white, but my brother continues to be in Jail, he said.

“The family approached several local political leaders to seek the release of Ashraf, but all in vain,” his brother told The Kashmiriyat.

He said that the Special Task Force personnel of Jammu Kashmir Police has been raising their house constantly and threatening the family to not seek the release of Ashraf.

“Late Night on October 05, the forces raided our house and said that they will kill us all in a fake encounter, they threatened women as well,” his brother said adding that the forces have been raiding their house constantly.

Ashraf was shifted to Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu, the family has appealed the New governor of j&k to look in this case and release our son.

Author: Qazi Shibli

Qazi Shibli is a News Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ A Documentary maker and writer, Qazi Shibli is a Journalism graduate from Bangalore University.