Was Asked To Quit Politics For Freedom: Nayeem Akhtar

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Naeem Akhtar

‘I was asked to sign the bond many times. I was, in fact, the first person among the detainees who was approached for it in September last year itself.’

DIVULGING his detention details days after being released from custody and subsequently evicted from his Gupkar residence, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senior leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar said he was repeatedly visited by government representatives and intelligence officials during his captivity at “subsidiary jails”.

“They persuaded me to … sign a bond saying that I would not indulge in any political activity after being released,” Akhtar told Asian Age’s Kashmir bureau chief, Yusuf Jameel in an exclusive chat. “I was asked to quit politics to walk free, evade harrying and live a comfortable life with my family.”

A onetime close-confidante of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Akhtar had sought premature retirement from government services in 2008 to join the PDP.

“I was asked to sign the bond many times. I was, in fact, the first person among the detainees who was approached for it in September last year itself. They told me that since I’m facing several health issues it would be better for me to come out of the jail and go home,” he said.

The 69-year-old politician was released last week after Jammu and Kashmir authorities revoked his detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). After he was placed under house arrest, he was visited by two officials of the estates department at 11am on Thursday, ‘asking him to vacate his government accommodation in five hours or face forcible eviction’.

The house was allotted to him few years ago as he was a “protected person” in view of the threat perception. Akhtar had sold his own house in city’s Barzulla locality some time ago after it was damaged in a series of attacks allegedly carried out by militants and protesters.

Currently living at his sister’s place and planning to shift to a rented accommodation, Akhtar said he was asked to sign a “horribly worded” bond in detention.

“I don’t think that people even in an autocracy would be asked to sign such a bond,” Akhtar said who was shifted from a city hotel to Srinagar’s MLAs hostel, also declared a subsidiary jail.

He said he was again visited by some officials who told him that considering his age and failing health, the government was willing to set him free on the condition that he agreed to retire from politics.

“They also told me that ‘you are an elderly person’, to which I said that there are many people who are older than me and yet incarcerated and that they should take a view of everybody if they are really concerned about our age and health issues,” the former minister, whose PSA detention order mentions his endorsement to Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani’s autobiography for students as an education minister, said.

“I told them that more than 100,000 people have already lost their lives in the three-decade-old turmoil, many of them just 14-15 years old. If an old man dies in your prison it won’t be a big deal and I won’t consider it as a sacrifice.”

Akhtar said that it was after this meeting that he was detained under the PSA.

“After some time, I was again approached by some people who were not locals. I told them that the solution of Kashmir issue can’t be evaded even if the government of India reduces J&K to a municipality,” he said.

“I was unexpectedly released from the makeshift jail after my detention under the PSA was revoked last week. However, after being taken to my home I was placed under house arrest and barred from meeting anybody, including media representatives. I have also been instructed not to venture out without permission.”

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