Thousands of people were detained in Kashmir on August 5, 2019, when Modi led BJP government abrogated the special status to Jammu and Kashmir article 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
It’s been a year and a half. Several of those arrested were charged with serious offenses and are still being held in prisons.
Government recently told parliament that 180 people arrested under the Public Safety Act are currently in jail. The government also said that 613 people have been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir under a law since August 1, 2019.
Ashiq Ahmed Rather, a 30-year-old religious leader, is a resident of Khanjapur village in Pulwama district. He was detained by security officials two days before the decision to repeal Article 370 was made. A few days after his arrest, Ashiq Ahmed was charged under the Public Safety Act and transferred to Agra Central Jail. He is currently lodged in Agra Jail.
According to BBC urdu, father of Ashiq Ahmed, Ghulam Nabi Rather said that his family was asleep when security forces arrived at night to arrest his son.
“They were inside the house and talking loudly,” he says. We woke up. We opened the door. My son Aashiq came out of his room. When security forces spotted the lover, they grabbed him and took him away”.
Ghulam Nabi says, “Two days later we found out that Ashiq had been taken to Agra Central Jail. A month later we went to Agra Jail but the authorities there did not allow us to meet our son. Prison officials told us that we had to get written permission from the local police. We stayed in Agra for four days and kept asking the officials for a meeting but no one listened to us”.
Ghulam Nabi returned to Kashmir without meeting his son. He then moved to Agra after spending a lot of money hoping to see his son. He has not been able to travel to Agra since then due to bad weather, snowfall and restrictions imposed by the Corona epidemic.
Ashiq Ahmed’s younger brother Adil Ahmed said that “We were scared because of the Corona epidemic. We wondered what we would do if something happened to the lover. We kept going from one officer to another. I tried a lot but nothing came of it.
Ashiq Ahmed’s mother Raja Begum says, “He used to offer daily prayers in the Pampore Jama Masjid and the rest of the week he used to go to the Kanjpura village mosque.”
“I haven’t seen my son since he was arrested,” she told the BBC. A mother will tell you how painful it is not to see her son for months. I am a mother and know the value of a mother’s love. I am old and it has become very difficult for me to go to Agra to meet him.
“After a year and a half, I recently spoke to my son on the phone,” she says. I could only talk to him for a minute. I keep looking at the door and I think my son will come. I want to ask the government to release my son.
Ashiq Ahmed’s wife Ghazala says, “since my husband was arrested under the Public Safety Act, my life has been hell.”
“No one can imagine my pain,” Ghazala added. I am helpless Every day is a new burden for me. How can I live a quiet life when my husband is in jail? My two-year-old daughter misses her father and keeps saying Baba Baba.
Ashiq Ahmed has an MA and B.Ed in Urdu. Ghazala denies all the allegations against her husband and says she knows him well.
Ashiq Ahmed is among hundreds of people in jail and far from home in Jammu and Kashmir.