Veteran separatist hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani has decided to join Facebook to start an online campaign against the ‘unjustified’ incarceration of a militant commander turned Hurriyat leader, who will be completing 20 years in jail coming June.
The campaign, Geelani said, will be aimed at sensitising people in and outside the state about Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Mohammad Qasim(43), the ‘longest serving prisoner of Kashmir’, to build pressure on government for his release.
“Despite completing his jail term, he is still behind the bars which is morally and constitutionally unjustified. Geelani sahib will himself start the campaign on Monday by clicking on the petition ‘Release Dr Mohammad Qasim,” said Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar.
Faktoo, husband of firebrand woman separatist Asiya Andrabi, was a militant commander before his arrest in 1993 over the “murder” charge of human rights activist HN 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. He completed his mandatory period of 14 years for life imprisonment in Feb 2008 and accordingly state Review board recommended his release.
“He is a political prisoner and has not been released just because of political vengeance of the establishment. It is the height of human rights violation of which state government is becoming a part of,” Geelani said.
After 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 calibre ‘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.