Sopore: Haji Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf, a resident of Iqbal Nagar in Sopore, was arrested when he was 76-year-old but his continuous detention under consecutive Public Safety Acts (PSA) from last more than fourteen months despite the court giving him bail in November and in March in two PSA case has not earned him a release order but only a third PSA slapped against him in April. In his continuous jail term detention, Yousuf has turned 77-year-old in jail now.
Yousuf’s two sons are no longer alive: Mohammad Altaf Sheikh was killed by unknown gunmen at New Colony Sopore in the year 2015, and Abdul Roaf, a PhD scholar, was killed in Srinagar in 2001during a fidayeen attack on army’s corps headquarters. He was traveling from Aligarh to his home when he was caught in crossfire. Yousuf’s wife, his daughter-in-law and her three kids are the only family members he has at home.
Yousuf’s wife Hanifa Begum, 74, told Kashmir Reader that on the night of August 8 last year when public uprising began in the wake of Burhan Wani’s killing, policemen came to arrest Yousuf but he told them that he would himself report at the police station in the morning. Yousuf went as he had promised but did not return. Hanifa Begum learnt from the police that Yousuf had been arrested under the Public Safety Act and sent to Kupwara Jail.
Yousuf has been a pro-freedom activist and a member of Jamat-e-Islami since his youth. Hanifa Begum said her two sons were killed in the past few years, and she fears for his old aged husband, as Yousuf is already a heart patient and has undergone two surgeries in his left eye.
“I am myself old and ill. Now who will continue to go to jails to meet Yousuf Sahib, or submit his bail application again and again as we have no male member in our family. This is his third PSA detention. The court granted him bail in November 2016 and March 2017 but the police did not release him,” she said adding, “The police again charged him in April under PSA. Yousuf sahib has spent almost fifteen months in jail now and nobody is talking or helping us to get an old person, who is no threat to anyone, out from the jail”.
The police dossier on Yousuf shows that he has been released twice in the past fourteen months, first on November 24, 2016 and on March 4, 2017. This, according to his family, is a lie. “He (Sheikh) has not been released even for a single day in the past fourteen months,” the family members said.
The different police dossiers on Haji Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf remains pretty much same just the dates get changed and the number of PSA. For the first two PSA, Yousuf Sahib was in Kupwara jail but now under third PSA slapped against him in April, he continues to languish in Baramulla sub-jail, she said.
“We have not seen our grandfather for one year, not even on Eid. We miss him so much every day,” Sheikh’s granddaughter told Kashmir Reader.
“Keeping such an old man in jail who has only women and small grandchildren at home is a punishment for everyone of us. This is the extreme level of cruelty,” Hanifa Begum lamented.