Account of a trip to Kashmir
Sitaram Yechury’s affidavit detailing his visit to Kashmir — the only one so far by any national leader since the imposition of a lockdown on August 5 and the announcement of the revocation of special status — was on Thursday taken on record by the Supreme Court.
The court had granted the CPM general secretary permission to travel to the Valley. On the basis of the affidavit, the court ordered that Yechury’s CPM colleague Yousuf Tarigami, who suffers from diabetes, various heart ailments and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, be moved to the AIIMS in New Delhi for treatment. It was to check on the ailing Tarigami that the court had allowed Yechury to travel to Srinagar last month.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.A. Bobde and Abdul Nazeer also issued a notice to the Centre to respond to Yechury’s allegation that Tarigami’s health condition had “aggravated” on account of his illegal detention and that his family was under “de facto arrest”. But the Chief Justice added: “The affidavit speaks of something for which he (Yechury) was not permitted to do on his visit…. We have examined the affidavit and we will ask their (the Centre’s) response.”
Excerpts from the affidavit filed by Yechury follow:
“I am the petitioner in the present petition and I am filing this report in the form of an affidavit pursuant to this Hon’ble court’s order dated 28.08.2019.
“Pursuant to the order dated 28.08.2019, on 28.08.2019 itself, the deponent contacted the officer identified in the order, namely Mr Mir Imtiyaz Hussain, senior superintendent of police, security, in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, to discuss his travel to Kashmir to meet Mr Tarigami…. The deponent indicated to the concerned officer that he would be travelling on Indigo Airlines Flight 6B 2136 on 29.08.2019, which departs from Delhi at 09.55am and has a scheduled arrival at Srinagar at 11.30am.
“On 29.08.2019, the deponent along with his personal assistant travelled by the above mentioned flight and arrived at Srinagar airport. No sooner had he got out of the aircraft, within the aerobridge itself, two police officers approached him and took him to a room in the airport arrival area, where the identified officer Mr Imtiyaz met him.
“The officer, Mr Imtiyaz, indicated that he would take the deponent to meet his colleague and friend, Mr Tarigami, and also indicated that thereafter he would bring the deponent back to the airport to take one of the flights back to Delhi that depart around 5pm.
“The deponent indicated to Mr Imtiyaz that whether or not he would return the same evening would depend on his assessment of the health condition of Mr Tarigami….
“It is submitted that as per the order of this Hon’ble Court, the job of the respondent authorities was to ‘facilitate the travel and help the petitioner in locating the whereabouts of Mr Tarigami… if required’. The role of the respondent authorities was strictly restricted to identifying the location of Tarigami and facilitating the visit to the extent necessary.
“Therefore, it would have been sufficient for the authorities to simply indicate that Mr Tarigami is at his home at Gupkar Road and that the deponent could have on his own travelled to the said location to meet him. However, the authorities insisted that the deponent move only with them…. Thus, right from the point when the deponent landed in Srinagar, up until the point he boarded the return flight to Delhi, the deponent was not allowed to move on his own to meet Mr Tarigami.
“The deponent along with his personal assistant was asked to board a high-security car which had a cavalcade of cars and security personnel both in its front and rear. This cavalcade of cars then proceeded to Mr Tarigami’s house at Gupkar Road in downtown Srinagar.
“On reaching the house of Mr Tarigami, on or about 12.30pm, the deponent met Mr Tarigami, who was very pleased and relieved to see the deponent. He sat in the drawing room of Mr Tarigami. For the first hour, the concerned officer, the SSP Mr Imtiyaz, was also sitting uninvited in the drawing room along with the deponent and Mr Tarigami, although there was no need for him to be present there.
“During this period when the concerned officer, Mr Imtiyaz, was present in the room, the deponent herein inquired from him the charges and the provisions of law under which Mr Tarigami was being detained in his house. The concerned officer indicated that there were no legal charges against Mr Tarigami, and that he has not been detained and that he is “free”.
“Mr Tarigami thereafter indicated in the officer’s presence that… although no order of detention had been shown to him, his security has been instructed by the authorities not to allow him or his family members to move out of the house or allow any person from outside to enter the house for the last 25 days. These instructions were being strictly followed and thus, neither he nor his family members were allowed to go out of the house nor anyone was allowed to enter the house to meet him. He and his family were in ‘de facto’ house arrest.
“Mr Tarigami informed the deponent that he had his last regular visit to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar (hereinafter SKIMS) on 31.07.2019. In that medical visit, his doctors advised him to undergo certain follow-up investigations. However, he could not attend the hospital thereafter as he has been detained in his house from 05.08.2019. Upon repeated requests to the authorities, one cardiologist and endocrinologist were allowed to make a home visit on 19.08.2019 and suggested multiple investigations for the cardiac and diabetic status of Mr Tarigami.
“Mr Tarigami was however finally allowed to visit SKIMS only once on 24.08.2019, under security cover after multiple requests and follow ups to the authorities. However, on that date, the tests related to diabetic status could not be carried out due to non-availability of treating endocrinologist….
“Subsequently, the deponent had to request Mr Imtiyaz to leave the room, and only thereafter the concerned officer left the house of Mr Tarigami….
“Before Mr Imtiyaz left the house, the deponent insisted that a doctor carry out a thorough evaluation of the medical condition of Mr Tarigami before the deponent returned to Delhi. After making some enquiries, Mr Imtiyaz indicated that a doctor can be arranged only on the next morning, i.e. 30.08.2019.
“The deponent assumed that he could stay at the house of Mr. Tarigami overnight. However, the concerned officer Mr Imtiyaz indicated that as no one can enter or exit the house of Mr Tarigami, the deponent cannot stay in his friend’s house overnight….
“Mr Tarigami further indicated the following issues that he is facing relating to his welfare:
*He and his family, including his children and grandchildren, are in de facto house arrest.
*Neither is anyone allowed to enter their house, nor is anybody from inside the house allowed to go outside.
*Provisions for the house, etc. are brought by the security officers.
* He has no means of communicating with his family or friends in the rest of Srinagar, Kashmir, or India, as neither mobile networks nor landline networks are working. Even both the landlines in his house are non-functional. This makes it difficult to even seek emergency medical help. He has also been unable to contact his regular doctor who is familiar with his medical history, many medical conditions, and complications which may arise.
*There is a shortage of money and cash available with the family in view of their own house arrest and also the general lockdown.
“Thereafter, at about 4.30pm in the evening on 29.09.2019, the deponent was taken in the security convoy to a government guesthouse next to the Jhelum river, where he spent the night. In the morning at around 7.30am he was taken by the authorities to the house of Mr Tarigami once again where a doctor, who does not want his name disclosed, was brought. After the examination was concluded, the doctor noted the medical history of Mr Tarigami and the same was typed on a computer in the house of Mr. Tarigami, and an unsigned copy of the same given to the deponent, the deponent proceeded to the airport to take a flight to Delhi….
“From the entire visit, stay, and interaction, it was clear to the deponent, that the unlawful detention of Mr Tarigami and other restrictions imposed on his family, such as uncertainty about communication and access to medical and emergency assistance, have aggravated his severe and chronic health conditions and also had an impact on the mental health of him and his family.
“The state authorities booked the flight ticket from Srinagar to Delhi…. On arrival at the Delhi airport, the media was present in large number and the deponent faced a barrage of questions. In this situation, the deponent indicated that he would be making a report to the Supreme Court and that the situation on the ground to the extent he saw was completely contrary to what the government is indicating….”