Geelani Calls For Hartal On Monday

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Says, HC’s Verdict On Faktoo Politically Motivated

SRINAGAR – Expressing his anguish over the High Court judgment awarding “life imprisonment till death” to the Muslim League chief, Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, saturaday said the decision was “politically motivated.” He called for complete Kashmir bandh  on November 19 (Monday) to protest the ruling.

“We strongly condemn the judgment that could have serious consequences not only for Dr Faktoo but other lifers of the state as well. This is a living example of the courts, that are the last resort for the oppressed, succumbing to the pressure of security forces,” he alleged, adding it was the worst example of political vendetta unleashed by the National Conference-led government against the pro-freedom people.

Geeelani said the so-called government existed only in name and had failed to provide any relief to the people. “All the state institutions take directions from the armed forces,” he said while addressing a press conference at his Hyderpora residence.

“The so-called government is under the control of armed forces. They toe the line of the forces and do whatever pleases their dictators,” he said.

“Life imprisonment cannot exceed more than 14 years and sentencing Dr Faktoo was based on an earlier statement made by Omar Abdullah. Earlier, the chief minister had said he would look into the case but recently he made a statement that he wished to see Dr Faktoo behind bars forever,” Geelani said.

He said Baghat Singh too had used violence and Subash Chandra Bose had established Indian National Army and India had made them heroes but when it came to Jammu and Kashmir, India adopted a different policy.

Taking a dig at the state police, he said they were hand in glove with the armed forces in committing various human rights violations.

“They are the sons of the soil but they are no different from the armed forces who have committed grave human rights violations in the state. They have some compulsions that they cannot avoid dictation from the armed forces,” he said, alleging the state police were playing similar role in looting the forests and other natural resources. “It is not merely the roads and flyovers that are the responsibility of the government but protecting human rights is far more important,” he said.

Addressing the press conference, Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief and wife of Dr Qasim, Syeda Asiya Andrabi, said the judgment had come as no surprise. “It was shocking but not unexpected. We were waiting for the judgment from the courts which have become subservient to the aggressors, the armed forces and the government,” she said.

“Despite recommendations by the Review Board that a person of such caliber does not deserve to be in jail as he has completed his life term, the state government’s Home Department headed by the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, wants him to languish in jail for whole of his life,” she said, quoting a report in a New Delhi-based paper.  

“After the government rejected the Board recommendation for his release, Dr Faktoo approached the single bench of the High Court on June 05, 2010 which asked government to reconsider the review board recommendations but the government again challenged the said order before the double bench which set it aside,” Asiya said, adding  

the double bench had maintained the prisoner of such caliber did not deserve to be in jail. “Dr Qasim has completed 20 years in prison as per the Jail Manual and Prison’s Act (of the state) but the government is targeting him for his political ideology,” DeM chief said.

She said Dr Faktoo’s acquittal had been challenged in the Supreme Court after which he was arrested on the basis of a confessional statement during an interrogation. “There is no basis of confession during an interrogation. Dr Qasim had never accepted anything as he had done nothing wrong,” she said.

Dr Qasim was first detained in 1993 under the Public Safety Act. However, after six years of imprisonment, a TADA court acquitted him of all the charges. Police later rearrested him at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in 2002 after attending a conference on Kashmir in London.

In 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of his alleged involvement in the killing of human rights activist, H N Wanchoo. Dr Faktoo had denied the charges.

Earlier, a bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had directed to release him in 90 days. The government had challenged the decision in division bench and in September 2011, the division bench observed that TADA convict can’t be released prematurely after 14 years. The division bench said the case be considered only after the imprisonment of 20 years.

Later, Geelani visited the house of Dr Faktoo, to express solidarity with his family.

Meanwhile, several organizations, including the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, the Peoples Political Party, have endorsed Geelani’s bandh call and urged the people across the state, including Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar and Jammu, to observe complete shutdown on Monday. (with inputs from Agencies)

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