CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury speaks to Manoj C G on his visit to Kashmir to meet party leader Tarigami and the current situation in the Valley.
What is your reaction to the Supreme Court order on your petition?
We welcome the interim verdict which they have given, asking that Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami should be shifted to AIIMS. This was objected to by the government. (Attorney General) K K Venogopal said he is already getting good care. So the Chief Justice asked him, ‘Are you objecting to him getting better care?’. Then there was no answer. So that order was passed.
You visited Kashmir at a time when there are conflicting reports emerging from the Valley on the situation there. What was your impression?
First of all, we were under heavy police security. We were not allowed to get off anywhere on the way till we reached Tarigami’s house. When I insisted that I will stay the night so that I can talk to his doctors the next morning…we were not allowed to stay in Tarigami’s house and taken to a government guesthouse which was again out of bounds for us to leave or for anybody else to enter. So there was very limited interaction. But whatever we could see while driving…it was clear that the claims made by the government and the actual ground reality are completely contradictory. The shops were closed, the schools… though they claim they have opened…there was nobody, not a soul…there was no public transport…so only those who have some vehicles and those vehicles which have some fuel are able to move. The fuel pumps are closed…I also wanted to meet Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti as they are old friends of mine. The officers said the Supreme Court orders are direct and clear that I can see Tarigami and go back to Delhi.
In your affidavit, you have mentioned that the officer who took you to Tarigami’s residence indicated to him that there were “no legal charges” against him and that he has not been detained.
There are no legal grounds that were produced for him to be detained…There are no sections of any law which have been invoked to detain him. So palpably it is not a detention that is legally sustainable. What has happened is that his security has been withdrawn and the security personnel at his house were orally instructed that nobody can leave the house, nor can anybody from outside enter. That is what I have said. On this, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the government, asking them to reply. Now once the reply comes, the habeas corpus writ will proceed. It is not closed. The case is still on.
On your habeas corpus writ petition, the Supreme Court allowed you to travel to Srinagar to meet Tarigami. Did you find it strange that the court allowed you to travel and report on his condition but did not direct the authorities to produce him.
Yes, I found it very strange. Habeas corpus literally means bring the body. That is what it says in Latin. So instead of bringing the body, the petitioner was asked to visit the body, come back and report on the status in an affidavit to the court. So that itself is very strange. But since they gave this opportunity, I went. Naturally, twice having gone earlier and failed, I went there.
But the case will continue. Because the court had asked me to give an affidavit…in which what I said about the legal aspect of the detention…on that the government will respond and on that basis the case will move on.
Do you expect other parties to file similar habeas corpus petitions. Are you surprised that none of the parties have so far opted for this route?
I am. In fact, I had indicated to some parties that I am doing this for Tarigami. I cannot do it for others because my locus standi will be questioned. Since Tarigami is a member of CPM’s central committee… as CPM general secretary, I have the locus standi to file it for him. The other party leaders should do that for their members.