Lawyers say they are being summoned, harassed by Indian police

Srinagar, June 13 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian police have filed an open FIR and started questioning those criticising the judgment of High Court of the territory, which denied bail to illegally detained High Court Bar Association President, Mian Abdul Qayoom, just for his political ideology and stance on the Kashmir dispute.

Indian police had arrested Mian Abdul Qayoom, days after Modi government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 05, last year. He was booked under draconian law, Public Safety Act (PSA), and shifted to Agra central jail in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He was later moved to New Delhi’s infamous Tihar jail after he suffered a severe heart attack in Agra prison.

The lawyers of the Valley have said that the police are hounding them for criticising the High Court order of May 28 that upheld the detention of Mian Qayoom under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

The division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterjee Koul had also set an unusual condition to Mian Qayoom, asking him to shun his political ideology before seeking his release.

The judgment has evoked condemnation in and outside occupied Kashmir, with a senior non-Valley lawyer terming it a seamless merger of the judiciary with the executive.

The police targeting of lawyers comes weeks after a crackdown on Valley journalists, who too had faced FIRs and summons for their writings and posts on social media.

Last week, the police registered an open FIR against the critics of the judgment and now the critics are being summoned to Shaheed Gunj police station in Srinagar where the FIR was lodged.

Shopian lawyer, Habeel Iqbal, who was summoned on Wednesday, said that he was questioned for five hours and asked to reveal every personal and family detail, including the name of his five-year-old child. Habeel Iqbal, a legislative fellow of the US State Department, said that he had not come across a single past instance of lawyers being booked for criticising a court judgment.

In a tweet, Iqbal had said the judgment shall be remembered as yet another instance of court acting as an extension of the executive.

Media reports said a lawyer from Srinagar, Bilal Ahmad Butt, too had been summoned but had told the police that he was being treated for cancer and could not visit them. Bilal Ahmad Butt said that he would challenge the judgment in the Indian Supreme Court.

A Kashmir Bar office-bearer said that the lawyers feared more summons in the coming days but would not give up their right to dissent.


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