Kripalpora-Pattan (Baramulla): A 33 year old Sarpanch, who braved militant threats to keep the flag of Indian democracy fly high in Kashmir, has been booked under stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and shifted to Nani jail in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Imran Dar, general secretary of youth wing of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was arrested hours before Parliament abrogated Article 370 on August 5. He was first taken to Central Jail Srinagar and then shifted to Nani jail in Allahabad.

An Indian by conviction, Dar started his political career with All India Rajiv Gandhi Vichar Manch in 2011 before switching to Panthers Party. Later he joined BJP and became its district president for Baramulla. However he quit the party to join PDP where he was made general secretary of its youth wing.

“We feel betrayed”, screamed Kulsuma. “Look what reward he has been given for being loyal to the nation”.

For the last two months, Kulsuma has been sobbing quietly while flipping through the pictures and other memorabilia of her 33 year old incarcerated son. Flashback of her son being taken away in the dead of night still plays in her mind.

Kulsuma Kashmiri Sarpanch

“Police told us that he was being taken into protective custody given the situation. But the fact is that they deceived us. He was booked under PSA and taken to Allahabad. We have not even met him”, said Kulsuma.

Last year when militants warned people against participating in Panchayat polls, Dar risked his life to contest the elections. Not only he won Sarpanch seat, his 12 associates became the Panches in this village. Such was his popularity that he was the frontrunner in the race of PDP hopefuls for Pattan assembly constituency.

“After completing his studies in Bangalore, he joined mainstream politics which was not popular choice during that time. But he stood ground and worked hard for the downtrodden people. He was in BJP and was brushing shoulders with who-is-who. Look how he has been treated now”, said Bashir Ahmad Gillo, Panch and close associate of Dar.

What have surprised people are the grounds on which he has been booked under PSA. Under PSA, a person can be jailed up to two years without trial and bail. Dubbed lawless law by Amnesty International, PSA has usually been used against militants, separatists and stone throwers.

“You at every available opportunity exhort the general public to raise a voice against the government duly established by law. You are reported to have stressed the general public to continue the secessionist activities and arousing anti-India sentiments in them, which pose major threat to the maintenance of public order…You have been indulging in anti-national/anti-social activities in order to disturb peaceful atmosphere in Tehsil Pattan so that situation gets worsens”, read Dar’s PSA dossier signed by District Magistrate, Baramulla.

Come Thursday, Panches and Sarpanches will be electing the chairmen of Block Development Councils. However Dar will be missed in action. “Singpora BDC is reserved for woman. Dar was working hard that this BDC should be made open seat… Had it been the open seat, he would have joined the fray. Since he is in jail, there is discontent among his supporters”, said Gillo.

 

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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