Separatists Call for Bandh As 2 Militant Convicts Shifted to Jammu

Both Faktoo and Shariati in the past have been allegedly associated with the militant outfit Jamiatul Mujahideen. 

5 min read
Hindi Female

Shifting of two top militant convicts, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo aka Dr Qasim and Professor Mohammad Shafi Khan aka Dr Shafi Shariati, from Srinagar Central Jail to Jammu has ruffled feathers in the Valley’s separatist camp and so-called Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a shutdown on Wednesday.

Faktoo and Shariati have been serving life term after Supreme Court convicted them for the assassination of the human rights activist Hriday Nath Wanchoo in 2003.

Calling the duo’s transfer to Jammu “dictatorial and inhuman”, JRL top brass, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, asked the Kashmiris to observe complete shutdown on 7 March.

In a statement, the JRL leaders said that Fakhtoo and Shariati had completed respectively 25 and 15 years of imprisonment and both were suffering from multiple ailments due to their prolonged confinement.

Yet they were shifted to Jammu jails, causing a risk to their lives which is inimical to all humanitarian and democratic principles.
JRF Leaders, in a statement

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dr Shesh Paul Vaid confirmed to The Quint that both, Faktoo and Shariati, had been shifted to two jails in Jammu late on Saturday after Principal Secretary Home issued orders to this effect on 26 February.

While Faktoo has been lodged in District Jail Udhampur, Shariati has been accommodated in a jail in Hiranagar, in Jammu’s Kathua district.

Both Faktoo and Shariati in the past have been allegedly associated with the militant outfit Jamiatul Mujahideen. Both are highly educated, each holding doctorate.

Now founder chief of a politico-religious organisation, Muslim Deeni Mahaz (MDM), Faktoo has his post-graduation and Ph.D in Islamic Studies from the University of Kashmir which he pursued during his years of imprisonment. He is the husband of firebrand separatist leader and founder-chairperson of the outlawed Dukhtaraan-e-Millat.

After the couple were arrested on their return from New Delhi at Srinagar Airport on 5 February 1993, Faktoo was prosecuted by CBI on charges of planning and executing Wanchoo's assassination in a TADA court. He was acquitted and released in 1999.


In 2002, Faktoo was arrested by Delhi Police on his arrival from London at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi Police claimed to have seized from him a cache of RDX and hawala money. Meanwhile, CBI challenged his acquittal in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and subsequently in Supreme Court. Faktoo continued to deny charges of his involvement in Wanchoo’s murder.

Finally, Supreme Court of India held him guilty for Wanchoo’s assassination and awarded him and two others life imprisonment.

With a brief interval, Faktoo has now completed 25 years of imprisonment in different jails. At Srinagar Central Jail, he has been engaged by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for teaching of prisoners and under-trials who wanted to pursue higher studies. In a newspaper interview last month, Faktoo claimed to have tutored 150 inmates in Srinagar Central Jail. He has also written and published 21 books— 15 in Urdu and 6 in English--- mostly on Pakistan's narratives on the Kashmir conflict.

In the same interview, Faktoo claimed that emissaries and interlocutors of the Government of India made him several offers of release and Ministry of Education if he abandoned separatist ideology and contested elections. He claimed to have turned down 8 of such 'offers' in the last 25 years.

He firmly believes in annexing Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and turning it into an Islamic state.

In 2012-13, Faktoo’s legal counsels failed to get him released from jail as Justice Mansoor Mir of Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruled that a prisoner upon completing 14 years in jail could not be released as a matter of right. Justice Mir ruled that life imprisonment would mean imprisonment for life. According to him, a state government had the prerogative of releasing a prisoner upon completing 14 years of imprisonment on the basis of his conduct as per the Jail Manual but the State was under no obligation to order a convict's release as a matter of right.

Professor Mohammad Shafi Khan, who has his masters and Ph.D in Persian language and literature, used to be a faculty with Department of Persian of the University of Kashmir in 1980s and 1990s. After his name figured among Wanchoo’s alleged assassins, he went underground for some years.

Later he joined back at the University of Kashmir. But after Supreme Court convicted him, along with Faktoo and Ghulam Qadir Bhat of Gushi Kupwara, he again went underground. In 2009, he compiled and published senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's biography, titled "Ek Tehreek, Ek Tareekh" in Urdu on in his pseudonym 'Dr Shafi Shariati'.

Even as he absconded for years and his post at the University of Kashmir was kept intact by then Vice Chancellor M.Y. Qadri, Shariati was finally arrested in 2011 and lodged in Srinagar Central Jail.

A resident of Haari Wanin village near Khansahab in Budgam district, Shariati was known to be very close to his neighbour and a pioneer of Kashmir's insurgency, Hilal Ahmad Mir alias Nasirul Islam, who in early 1990s headed Hizbul Mujahideen and Muslim Mujahideen militant organisations.

When over 40 prominent militant and separatist prisoners were shifted last month to Jammu, immediately after the high-profile Pakistani LeT commander Naveed Jhat’s dramatic escape at SMHS Hospital, Srinagar, on 6 February, there were speculations in political and police circles that Mehbooba Mufti’s government and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had “serious reservations” DG Prison's to shift Faktoo and Shariati from Srinagar Central Jail to Jammu.


Chief Minister Mufti, who is also Minister in-charge Home and President of PDP, was understood to be apprehensive of the possibility of turbulence as some separatist groups could exploit Faktoo’s and Shariati’s shifting to disturb peace in the Vallet. All such speculations have been set aside with the duo’s transfer to Jammu which is implementation of the Home Department’s Order No: Home/292/2018 and Home/293/2018 dated 26 February.

In a statement on Sunday,General Secretary of MDM, Muhammad Maqbool Bhat said that the ailing leader was taken for a health check-up on 3 March and instead of being brought back to Srinagar Central Jail he was shifted to Udhampur.

"It is blatant deception, even as, the court had clearly directed the jail authorities to lodge him at Central jail", added he.

He said the incarceration of Dr Qasim is a political vendetta against him and now shifting him away from his family shows that the Government and administration is hell bent to rake up difficulties on him to satisfy their ego.
Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, General Secretary, MDM

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news and india

Topics:  Kashmir   Supreme Court   Pakistan 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More