On 19 September, Lateef Ahmad Malik, a junior laboratory assistant in sheep husbandry department, woke up during the night to the rumble of vehicles outside his house at Andresh colony, Bemina, in Srinagar city. Consistent pounding on his door left him terrified and soon he heard the yells of police personnel. But when his family opened the door they told a police party that the house didn’t belong to Lateef. Police took away his older brother before beating up his family members. Lateef couldn’t sleep and when dawn broke he walked up to the police station to inquire the reason for the raid. He was detained by police for five days and taken to an interrogation Centre and asked whether he knew any of the Hurriyat leaders.
"The police started questioning and told me why I evaded them during the night. I told the personnel that I was terrified; I asked them why was I required for questioning. I am a government employee and had not done anything. I was detained for five days and there was no FIR registered against me. I was mentally tortured,’’ he said. Following the police raid the health condition of Lateef’s mother, who has undergone a stroke, deteriorated. She remains hospitalised since then and his sister-in-law was injured in the shelling that police resorted to during the raid. "It was harassment, police fired shells which landed in our house. We cried asking for help but the neighbours were also terrified due to the shelling. When police had left our neighbours came and asked us that we would make an announcement in the mosque, but I told them there was no need. There were around 20-30 vehicles which stopped outside our house and I still don’t know what was my crime,’’ he said.
Lateef is not the only one who has faced detention by police. There are over 300 government employees including the senior rank gazetted officials who are facing police cases for either taking part in the stone pelting incidents or lading the anti-India protests and having incited a mob. A top police official said that "predominately the employees are from education department." "In many cases the employees were found to be organising the protests and leading anti-India processions. Many of the employees are facing departmental inquires, many others
have been suspended,’’ he said.
The police have booked the employees for being a "threat to the peace of the state", but employees said that the charges have been fabricated against them.
According to officials police have registered cases charging employees of disturbing the peace. Legal expert and general secretary of the High Court Bar Association, Basheer Sidique, said that the police was misusing the provisions of the law to arrest the government employees and the local people. "Under 107 CrPC a person is being detained for an apprehension of breach of peace. A person can furnish a bond to the Teshildar that he willn’t indulge in any unlawful activity for 6 months. The police have to issue a notice to an accused and seek an undertaking, but the procedure is not followed," he said.
Vice President of the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC), Wajahat Durrani, said that a number of employees have been booked even as they had no role in the current unrest. `` Many people have been arrested in false cases. There are over 300 employees who are facing cases including the gazetted cadre employees. Of them nearly 100 have been suspended by the government. The government has implicated the employees on frivolous charges,’’ he said. The employees have been largely booked in Southern part of Kashmir and in frontier district of Kupwara.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir range, Uttam Chand, said that the police have valid evidence against the people including the employees for their involvement in the "incidents of stone pelting’’ due to which the cases have been registered against them. "They have been found involved in serious anti-national activities," he said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, said that "we are examining the cases of the employees involved in the incidents of stone pelting.’’ He however said that only an appropriate legal action is taken against them as warranted under the law.