A man from Jammu & Kashmir’s Safapora was arrested last week and has been kept behind bars despite getting bail with locals alleging he was booked for offending an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer by saying he has more expectations from a Kashmiri than a non-Kashmiri officer at a meeting on June 10.
Sajad Rashid Sofi made the comments while addressing Baseer Khan, who is an advisor to Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, in presence of the IAS officer, Ganderbal deputy commissioner Krittika Jyotsna.
Locals said Sofi, a social activist, accompanied a delegation to meet Khan on June 10 to present their demands related to developmental work in the area.
A person, who accompanied Sofi, said he talked to Khan in Kashmiri in presence of Jyotsna and senior police superintendent (SSP) Suhail Munawar Mir. “He told Khan that we have more expectations from you being a Kashmiri and can grab your collar which we cannot do to a non-Kashmiri,” said the person, who did not want to be named. “What he meant was that Khan is a local and can understand local sensibilities and needs.”
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He said Khan answered in Urdu saying: “What are you saying, we are all Indians.” The person said Sofi’s comments offended Jyotsna and she left the meeting.
Sofi was called to the local police station the same day and booked under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)’s Section 153 for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups.
Meiraj Ahmad, the local village head, said police did not release Sofi even as he got bail on June 12. “They kept on dilly-dallying… First, he was booked under Section 153 IPC but later we were told that he was also held under Sections 107 and 151,” he said. Under Sections 107 and 151, a person can be put under preventive detention on the directions of an executive magistrate if there is an apprehension of breach of peace.
Ahmad said a delegation even met Jyotsna and apologised on behalf of Sofi. “She said that we should talk to Mir,” he said.
Jyotsna, Khan, and Mir did not respond to calls for comments.
Tariq Ahmad, the Safapora police station in-charge, said Sofi has been arrested but refused to provide further details. “I am not authorised to provide you with the information. Please call the SSP,” he said.
In a tweet, former minister and People’s Conference president Sajad Lone said: “Don’t get it wrong. Don’t make it a Kashmir Kashmir thing. It is an existential crisis for democracy. It is about democracy.”
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