Free Waqar: A campaign for justice in Kashmir


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Mar 14, 2012, By Dilnaz Boga | Agency: DNA

Online global campaigns to free prisoners wrongfully held have come to Kashmir. A group of youth, who call themselves Friends of Waqar have been silent for months. The fact that Waqar has been denied his basic rights has not let them have a moment of peace, one of them says, as he proceeds to show me the website (www.freewaqar.org) the group has been working on in uptown Srinagar.

The boys have decided to launch their own online protest. “We have made this website and we want people from all over the world to sign a petition to release Waqar immediately and mete out justice. This is an illegal detention,” Aslam (name changed) said.

Friends of Waqar are fighting for Waqar Ahmad Moharkan, a second year student of Bachelor’s in Commerce at Srinagar’s Islamia College of Science and Commerce. He was arrested by police of MR Gunj station on 4 October, 2011 on charges of participating in protests in Srinagar.

The court allowed his bail application on 23 October, 2011. Instead of being released, he was rebooked and moved to Central Jail under judicial remand on 15 December, 2011 suddenly slapped with the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

His lawyer, the head of the Bar Association in Kashmir Mia Qayoom has stated in writing that the youth was deliberately not handed a translated copy of the grounds of detention so that he would be unable to make an effective representation against the order of detention. The police passed the PSA without informing Waqar’s family, who had the legal right to challenge the act.

Thee family was informed about the PSA after the time to legally challenge the act had expired. Waqar was then illegally shifted to the Cargo Interrogation Centre for two days, one of his Friends said.

The youth in Kashmir are very articulate and aware of their rights. “We know what our rights are internationally and locally and we refuse to be denied of them. Just like Palestinian prisoners, we will ask the world to intervene… they have a moral obligation and they must fulfil it,” the young man in his early 20s added.

Waqar’s PSA order, which DNA is in possession of stated, “You have frequently come in the adverse notice of the police for your involvement in anti-social activities aimed at disturbing the public tranquility and peace in the city. You are instrumental in mobilising the anti-social elements for creating havoc in so far as causing serious law and order problem is concerned which inevitably besides endangering human life also causes impediments in the smooth economic development of the state. Your said acts are aimed at keeping the state on boil and thereby bringing about secession of J&K from Union of India. It has also emerged that your such nefarious designs are being carried out in a well thought out manner to bring the whole Downtown area to a stand still.”

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