Srinagar: A man in Kashmir Valley has been jailed for “promoting enmity” after he told the J&K Lieutenant Governor’s advisor that he has no expectations from officers who are not locals, reportedly displeasing the Ganderbal deputy commissioner who is from Uttar Pradesh.
Fifty-year-old Sajad Rashid Sofi of Wani Mohalla at Safapora in Ganderbal has been booked under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.) for his remarks. Sajad made the comment during an interaction of locals with the J&K Lieutenant Governor’s advisor, Baseer Ahmad Khan, at Mansbal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on June 10.
According to police report filed in a local court in Ganderbal, Sajad, who was part of a civil society delegation, while addressing advisor Khan, said, “I have expectations of you because you are a Kashmiri and can understand. And I can catch hold of your collar and can seek answers from you but what expectations can I have from non-state officers?”
The deputy commissioner of Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna, according to the police report, took strong exception to the remarks and got up from her chair to object.
An official handout released by J&K’s Information Department on June 10 states that on the day, the advisor, after reviewing the functioning of Manasbal Development Authority, met several delegations including BDCs, transporters, traders, civil society members and religious leaders from Safapora, who spoke to him about their grievances.
Who is the Ganderbal deputy commissioner?
The Ganderbal DC is an IAS officer of the 2014 batch of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. She was sent to J&K on inter-cadre deputation on February 8, 2021 for a period of two years along with her husband Rahul Pandey, who is also an IAS officer.
Pandey, who is additional secretary in J&K’s Raj Bhavan, holds the key portfolio of Information Director.
Locals told The Wire that on the day when Sajad uttered these remarks, he was summoned by the local Station House Officer to appear before a top police officer.
“The local SHO accompanied him to the officer’s at around 3.30 pm. He was brought to the Safapora police station from SSP office at around 7.30 pm and was released at around 8.30 pm,” said a local who requested anonymity fearing reprisal from administration.
He said that at 10 pm, Sajad again got a call to appear at the Safapora police station.
“He went to police station Safapora and cops lodged an FIR against him in the intervening night of June 10 and 11,” he said, adding that he was kept at the Safapora police station for three days, until when this report was published.
He said police did not release him even when the court granted him interim bail. “We have been told that he has been additionally booked under sections 107 and 151 of the IPC,” the local said.
Under sections 107 and 151 IPC, an executive magistrate can order preventive detention of a person in apprehension of breach of peace.
“Bail is a rule”
The court of the Ganderbal Chief Judicial Magistrate on Saturday, June 12, granted interim bail to Sajad Ahmad Reshi up to June 21, 2021 .
“Needless to mention that bail is a rule and its rejection is an exception. Bail in non-bailable crime cannot be refused without assigning strong reason although bail is a discretion of the court and discretion of bail cannot be exercised arbitrarily,” the judge said.
“The alleged committed crime attributed to the applicant does not carry life imprisonment or death penalty debarring this court to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant. As such, this court has a sufficient reason to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant,” reads the order passed by the judge.
When contacted, senior Superintendent of Police, Ganderbal, Suhail Munawar Mir confirmed that Sajad Ahmad has been booked under Section 153 IPC.
He confirmed that he has since been kept under preventive detention.