As DU Professor SAR Geelani, arrested on charges of sedition, serves out his 14-day judicial custody, his family waits anxiously for his return.
His daughter, Nusrat, says Geelani has been getting newspapers in his high-security ward in Tihar. “He knows how big the JNU issue has become. After Kanhaiya was arrested… the police came for him.”
Geelani was detained on February 15 and arrested at 3.30 am on February 16 for organising an event on Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru earlier this month. Unlike the uproar over JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, there have been no protests or debates over Geelani’s arrest.
“(This is) because he is a Kashmiri Muslim,” says Geelani’s brother, Bismillah. “It is okay for the state to arrest him for something he is not guilty of. No protest has been carried out in his support despite the two cases being similar,” he adds.
His son, Atif, says, “People are scared of supporting him because they are afraid of the backlash from the state…” His sister adds, “His friends from college have been calling in and a report or two has been written in the media. But that is all.”
They fear that because Geelani was “wrongly” charged with terror links in the past, it is making him a soft target for the government. “There were protests and marches on Afzal Guru’s death for the past three years all across the country. Law students had taken out a procession in the Supreme Court last year. But no one was arrested. What happened this year?” says
Geelani was acquitted by the Delhi High Court in 2003 in the 2001 Parliament blast case, in which he was charged as a co-accused. The family fears the silence around his arrest this time might sabotage his case. Geelani survived an attack on February 8, 2005, when he was shot at five times by assailants outside his lawyer’s residence. He has been provided security by the government since then.
But the absence of a media uproar has also kept his family out of harm’s way. “I do not want photographs of me taken. I do not want to be threatened like Umar Khalid’s sister was,” says Nusrat.