Er Rashid, a strong votary of democracy in J&K abandoned in Tihar on ‘frivolous’ grounds
By | S. A. Rashid
Detaining a person without informing his family is tantamount to a gross violation of human rights, but in the case of Kashmir, such violations have become routine where all powers bow their heads before agencies pertaining to law and order. It was August 4, 2019, when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took north Kashmir’s two-time turned MLA of Langate constituency Er Rashid who was summoned to New Delhi for questioning in a money laundering case and had been arrested there later on without keeping his family informed.It was quite a bright morning I was out in the market to buy some stuff while a phone which was in my right pocket started buzzing. I went a little away from the noise to listen and answer the call appropriately.
Fortunately, it was my next-door neighbor who asked me about the well-being of my father. “I heard your father has been taken to New Delhi by NIA, is this verified?”, the neighbor asked. I replied that I have no such idea as my father stepping out from his home without informing the family where he had to go? The call led to my uneasiness. I was worried about my father’s well-being who lived a simple life and served people of his constituency selflessly. For me, he was the hope of family who was taking care of everything we required. It is the presence of the father that keeps the clan happy and together. No other than family can understand the absence of a family head but Er Rashid was not connected only to a single family but hope for hundreds of households. He would spend most of the time with the people especially the poor and needy. The detention of such a noble person is no less than punishment to a society whose incarceration brought a wave of sorrow and sadness among people.
Like others, I’m also worried and concerned about my father who has been kept in India’s largest and infamous prison Tihar. Like my father, there were hundreds of political leaders and activists across the ideological divide either lodged in jails or kept under house detention. But my Abuji(father) has been taken miles away from us. Like my father, there were scores of political leaders and activists who were shifted to outside jails without informing their families. In the dead of the night, many were taken to outside from Srinagar Central Jail and others. Since there was a complete communication blackout in August 2019, we were unaware of the whereabouts of my father. He was not arrested the first time but had been detained many times only for speaking for his people.
The two-time legislator Er Rashid is not a terrorist but an ambassador of peace who impressed upon both Indo-Pak leadership to come to the table of dialogue and resolve the long pending issues including Kashmir which has consumed tens of thousands of innocent lives. He is vocal for the conduct of plebiscite in J&K which was assured by itself Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru – the first Prime Minister of India. Like every child, I too had dreams to get an education from leading schools of the valley but the simplicity and honesty of my father admitted me to a Government-run school in Handwara. Similarly like others, we too had a desire to have our car but we don’t because my father always stood for honesty and taught the entire family to live a simple and honest life. Unfortunately, people used to taunt him whenever he entered into Assembly or Civil Secretariat while wearing Kashmir’s traditional winter dress Pheran.
In pandemic days, everyone is talking about better healthcare facilities in place but my father started a campaign 10-years back for establishing a sophisticated and well-equipped hospital in north Kashmir for that he used to collect cash and kind to make this dream a reality. Besides, he used to provide free coaching to hundreds of poor, needy, and orphan students, conducted multiple sports events in collaboration with administration and NGOs for taking the local talent to new heights. But the Government seems a big threat to him if Er Rashid will roam freely in the streets of his constituency and outside.
My father undoubtedly keeps a different ideology. His aim is simple and clear that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should have been given what they have been promised by the first Prime Minister of India – Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru – publicly ally. But this word of my father didn’t suit to Union of India who kept him in dark cell of Tihar. My father always admires the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conundrum. On December 23, 2010, he organized a gathering of around four thousand people in his Langate constituency where people took a pledge that they wouldn’t pelt stones or indulge in anti-national activities rather will take part in every democratic exercise and seek the permanent resolution of Kashmir issue democratically and peacefully. By caging a two-time MLA who is a strong votary of democracy in J&K, I never thought that state would be so cruel to him and I wonder why no political party or a leader is talking about his ‘unjustified’ detention.
It has now been more than two years since his arrest and the only source of connecting him is a five-minute phone call that to having network problem. My mother never thought of surviving these harsh days without her husband’s support. In absence of my father, my mother is striving hard to take care of her kids beside the parents of my father. The Government is taking political revenge on my father. The pension he received till years ago had been stopped. In such a situation running normal affairs of a house is quite difficult and spine chilling. However, with the support of our uncle, we are trying to feed ourselves in such tough times. Life is very tough without the head of the family. He should be brought back to the valley jails at least so that family could meet him. His ailing parents and my woebegone mother are unable to make sense of his condemned fate for being a flag-bearer of unionist politics in Kashmir. My grandfather often said that why his colleagues, who used to sit with him in assembly together, are silent? Why are not they seeking his release? Is it not a moral obligation of three former Chief Ministers to rake up the voice for his early release? Ironically the NIA who detained my father on frivolous charges failed to prove a single charge in the court of law.
Government should not delay his release and ensure his early freedom from Tihar jail. As all other political parties have started the political process in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and are roaming freely everywhere, Awami Itihaad Party led by Er Rashid is also very much active on the ground and working day and night for their people but it is not easy for them to do it so easily without the party president. It’s mandatory for the government of India to release him at the earliest as he is the representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Note : Views expressed by the author are his own, Inside Kashmir doesn’t endorse it.
( S.A Rashid is Son of Engineer Rashid and can be contacted on , 7051613081, firstname.lastname@example.org )