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Qasim Faktoo completes 23 years in prison

SRINAGAR, 05 FEB (DNA) – Pro-freedom leader and head of Muslim Deeni Mahaz, Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo, has completed 23 years in prison on Friday (February 5), even as his family continues to maintain that he “has been deliberately made the victim of political vendetta.”

According to MDM, the continued incarceration of its head “is an act of vengeance.”

“Qasim refused to succumb, thus the government didn’t consider his release,” reads a pamphlet issued by the MDM. “Under 21.2 Chapter XXI, 46.18 Chapter XLVI of the Jammu Kashmir Jail Manual, a prisoner undergoing life imprisonment can be released after completing 14 years in prison. This is what governments across India have been following since 1947.”

It further reads that Qasim’s case was also forwarded for consideration by the Review Board after he completed 14 years in prison.

“The Board recommended his release but the government rejected the recommendation. Following government’s rejection, a petition was preferred in the High Court. The order was quashed and court directed the government to consider the case afresh,” the pamphlet reads. “However, a division bench while setting aside the single bench order held (that) life imprisonment according to Jail Manual is 20 years and thus it debars Qasim from release after 14 years.”

Qasim, who is married to Dukhtaran-e-Milat Chief Asiya Andrabi, was arrested on February 5, 1993 in connection with the murder of Hadaynath Wanchoo under sections 3 of TADA, 302 and 120 of RPC. The TADA court at Jammu while acquitting him, held: “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove the case against the accused persons.”

The State, however, challenged the acquittal in the Supreme Court which sentenced Qasim to life imprisonment on the basis of a confessional statement obtained under section 15 TADA. DrQasim was released on bail in March 1999 and re-arrested in February 2000.  The TADA court acquitted him in July 2001.

Dr Qasim was born on November 13, 1967 and has a doctorate in Islamic studies. He has authored 19 books in English and Urdu. Pertinently, when the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took over the reins of the State, he had asserted that he would review Qasim’s case but didn’t.

The family of Qasim terms his continuous detention as a “political vendetta of New Delhi and the J&K government.” “It’s been 25 years since I married Qasim and have been with him for just two years. Life without him has been very tough,” said Dukhtaran-e-Milat Chief and Qasim’s wife, AsiyaAndrabi.

She said Qasim has remained steadfast in the four walls of jail and has not wasted even a single minute. “I am thankful to Almighty that he didn’t fall prey to depression given the years he has spent in jail. I salute his courage and steadfastness,” she said.

On whether they had filed an appeal to seek Qasim’s release, she said: “We have not filed any appeal before anyone. We don’t expect any justice.” She said “for Qasim, the set law for life imprisonment which means 14 years in prison was changed.”

“For Qasim life sentence means detention as long as he is alive. Isn’t this vendetta,” she said. General Secretary of MDM Muhammad MaqboolBhat said the “bravery and resolve shown by Qasim is exemplary.”

Meanwhile, senior separatist leader, Shabir Shah while describing Qasim as an “epitome of patience and steadfastness” said “he has been made a victim of political vengeance by the successive state governments.”

He appealed the international human rights organizations to use their good offices in securing the release of Kashmiri prisoners languishing in different jails in and outside the Valley. DNA

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