A day after they were arrested for trying to stage a silent sit-in in Srinagar to protest against the Centre’s decision to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the J&K administration on Wednesday released 13 prominent women from the Valley, including the sister and daughter of Lok Sabha MP and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah.
After more than 30 hours in Srinagar’s Central Jail, the activists were released after they signed a mandatory bond assuring that they would “not commit breach of peace”.
“Yesterday they asked us to sign a bond to apologise (for the protest). We refused,” said Muslim Jan, retired editor of Kashmir University students’ newspaper who was among those arrested.
With Srinagar Central Jail running short of space, they were locked up in a room in the jail’s new administrative block.
The arrested people included National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraya and daughter Safiya Abdullah. Among the others arrested are Delhi-based activist and head of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation Sushoba Bharve, academic Hawa Bashir, who is wife of former Chief Justice of J&K High Court Bashir Ahmad Khan, and activist Qurat-ul-Ain.
The police did not register an FIR; they were arrested under Section 107 of CrPC for defying prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144.
“We wanted to send out a message with this protest — that people of J&K are not happy with the abrogation of special status to the state — and we have been successful in sending that out,” one of the women said.
In a statement issued at the time of their arrest, they had said that they are individuals from different fields and “disapprove of the unilateral decision taken by the government to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir…. We feel betrayed, humiliated and violated as people…”
Hawa Bashir’s son, actor Aamir Bashir, told The Indian Express earlier in the day in Mumbai that even though he was proud of his mother and his aunts, who were arrested, he was worried since they are old and frail. “At the same time, I know thousands of people are in a worse condition, or in a condition that we don’t even know about. Their family members don’t know where they have been taken. Compared to them, my mother comes from a privileged background…. So I can’t say my mother is suffering (but) my mother is asthmatic, suffers from arthritis and both her knees were replaced. My elder aunt has cardiac ailment.”
He also said, “My mother had called me while she was being taken to the jail. When I expressed my concerns, she laughed it off.” —With ENS, Mumbai