Kashmir's longest serving prisoner still fighting for his release
After nine years of trail, a militant commander turned Hurriyat leader, was acquitted by a Kashmir court of the alleged offense for which the accused was already cleared by Delhi court, years earlier.india Updated: Oct 01, 2012 01:36 IST
After nine years of trail, a militant commander turned Hurriyat leader, was acquitted by a Kashmir court of the alleged offense for which the accused was already cleared by Delhi court, years earlier.
In jail for the past 20 years of the 23 years of militancy, Muslim League Chairman, Dr Muhammad Qasim (43) was booked by Kashmir police in 2000 under explosive substances act only to be acquitted by a local court in Srinagar on Saturday.
“An FIR in Srinagar cannot be registered against the accused on the basis of the charges for which an FIR was already lodged in Delhi police station. It is in conflict with the provisions of law,” the counsels of the accused pleaded before 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Y P Kotwal in Srinagar on Saturday. The argument was accepted by the Judge.
Qasim also called Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, serving a life sentence in a murder case has spent almost half his life in jail. Despite review board recommendations and court’s assertion that a person of such caliber does not deserve to be in jail, the state government’s home department headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wants the prisoner to be in jail for ‘whole of his life’.
Faktoo , husband of pro-Islamic-state women leader Asiya Andrabi , was a militant commander before his arrest in 1993 over the “murder” charge of human rights activist H.N Wanchoo. While denying the charge Faktoo maintained that he was being targeted for his political belief and was acquitted in the case by the TADA court Jammu in July 2001.
But instead of releasing him government booked him under public safety act (PSA) and challenged his acquittal before the Supreme Court of India where he was sentenced for life. After completing his minimum mandatory period of 14 years for life imprisonment, state Review board recommended his release.
But as the state home department rejected the review board recommendations, Dr Faktoo approached single bench of high court on June 05, 2010. The single bench of the court asked government to reconsider the review board recommendations but government again challenged the said order before the double bench which set it aside.
The double bench however maintained that the prisoner of such caliber ‘does not deserve’ to be in jail. “He has been awarded Ph.D degree in July of 2006 in Islamic studies and is presently working for his second PhD program. He has delivered lectures to the students of IGNOU especially in social science. More than 125 students completed their bachelors preparatory program, graduation , post graduation under his guidance. With all such background such prisoner does not deserve to remain in jail,” quoted the judgment of double bench of high court.
Faktoo has again approached court for his release.