The family members of a tribal activist, who was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police for allegedly instigating people, have rejected the police allegations and said that the charges levied against him are “false and baseless”.
Talib Hussain, an activist who joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019, has been booked for his “Facebook video” that raised questions against the circumstances that led to the killing of a tribal youth in CRPF firing in Anantnag last month.
An official document reveals that FIR No. 65 of 2021 dated 9 October stands registered against Hussain under Sections 505 (spreading rumours or fake news) and 153 (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But Talib was arrested only on 8 November, according to the family.
“We fail to understand that if the FIR was lodged on 9 October, why didn’t the police inform us even after a month?” says Mohammad Haroon, Talib's brother.
“He has been in police custody since 8 November and booked on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, etc,” his lawyer, advocate Tariq Ahmad Bhat, told The Quint.
“The prosecuting officer has filed the objection before the sub-judge in Vailoo and the hearing has been delayed for now and is scheduled to take place on 16 November,” Bhat said.
Meanwhile, the arrest of Talib has shocked his family, who live in Samba.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Anantnag Ashish Kumar Mishra, could not be contacted for comments. A questionnaire has been forwarded to him.
The Killing of Parvez Ahmad Bokda
Parvez Ahmad Bokda was killed in CRPF firing on 7 October this year near the Monghal bridge in Anantnag after he allegedly jumped the security checkpoint despite being signalled to stop.
While talking to The Quint, the family had questioned the government forces’ action and had said that this was a targeted killing. They questioned why warning shots were not fired instead of killing him on the spot.
The police had subsequently issued a statement stating that a checkpoint had been set up at the Monghal bridge by the 40 battalion of the CRPF.
“A Naka was established by 40Bn CRPF at Monghal Bridge .A suspected vehicle without a number was signalled to stop by the Naka party. However, it rushed towards the Naka party. It was then challenged by the on-duty troops. Troops fired upon in self-defence, in which one person died. But the driver of the vehicle managed to escape from the spot. Identification & credentials of the deceased person are being verified. The investigation is going on,” the Kashmir Zone Police said on Twitter.
The killing of Parvez had sparked outrage across Kashmir. It took place on the day when two teachers from the minority community were brutally shot dead at a government-run school in Srinagar.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said on Twitter, “A heightened state of alert cannot be a reason to open fire like this. Senior officers of the security forces need to ensure calmer heads prevail & nothing happens to worsen the situation”.
What Did Talib Say in the Video?
After the killing of Parvez, Hussain, in a Facebook live, had vehemently rejected the police claim and said, “I don’t know whether he was asked to stop or not, however, they [the CRPF] say he was asked to stop as per their statement”. “In Kashmir, we are being asked to stand on the road for hours and we do. How dare one not stop after being signalled to stop by forces,” Hussain while apparently reacting on the police statement said.
“Bullets have shot his [Parvez’s] head as I have heard. No one can jump the checkpoint … now that Parvez Bhai has been killed,” Hussain can be heard saying in a video.
He further added, “The relatives couldn’t attend the funeral because his family were asked to bury the body immediately”.
Hussain further said, “Station House Officer (SHO) Larnoo had forced the family to bury the body in wee hours against the family’s wishes … and phones of the family were confiscated.”
He asked people to support the family in highlighting the case and said, “Forces could have averted the death by firing warning shots or tracked the vehicle at another checkpoint … this is a targeted killing.”
Talib, besides his Facebook video, had recently participated in a protest held in Srinagar against the arrest of Kashmiri youth who were booked on serious charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The tribal rights activist said the law was being used arbitrarily against the region’s youth.
‘Detained on Flimsy Charges’
Haroon says, “We had no knowledge that he [Talib] has been arrested by the police till he called us after spending a night at the police station.”
While talking to The Quint, he said, “He was arrested by police on flimsy grounds for openly expressing dissent against the authorities. He has done nothing wrong. The charges against him are baseless.”
The family of Talib spends the summer in the Larnoo area in South Kashmir and shifts to Mansar village in Samba during the onset of the winter season.
“On reaching here [Kashmir], the very next day we were told that he has been arrested for speaking in a live video on social media wherein he questioned the circumstances that led to the killing of the tribal youth in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) firing in Anantnag last month,” Haroon said.
For a month, the police did not inform us about the FIR lodged against him at the police station till he was arrested ... No one from the police came to inform us about the case.Mohammad Haroon, Talib's brother
On 8 November, while Talib Hussain was on his way home to Larnoo, the police intercepted and took him under custody, Haroon said, refuting police claims that he [Talib] was arrested on 9 November.
'Revenge For Kathua Campaign': Family
This is nothing but revenge for being a whistleblower in the Kathua rape case in 2018.Mohammad Haroon, Talib's brother
Talib Hussain was leading the campaign in the Kathua rape case to seek justice for the 8-year-old girl who was abducted, gang-raped and murdered. The girl belonged to the Muslim nomadic Bakarwal community and was a resident of Raisana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. The issue got highly politicised after two Ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rallied in support of the accused. The gang rape and murder, as well as the support the accused received, sparked outrage across the country and worldwide.
PDP Seeks Immediate Release
Najmu Saqib, a spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, sought the immediate release of Talib. Saqib said, “The preliminary reports say that he was arrested for speaking against the killing of a tribesman, who was shot dead by CRPF troopers. Is it a crime to speak in favour of a victim?”
They [the authorities] want us to selectively mourn and selectively condemn the killings. They set the agenda about which issues we should speak about.Najmu Saqib, PDP spokesperson
This, he says, is a “systematic campaign” of silencing the common people.
He further added that on one hand, authorities say that everything is normal with the tribal communities in Jammu & Kashmir, but on the other hand, they are silencing the voices of tribal activists. “This is largely aimed at creating fear among the people,” he said.
(Ishfaq Reshi is an independent journalist based in Kashmir.)