Monday, 30th October 2017

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‘Bullet threat’ to JNU student's parents in Kashmir

An officer claiming to be from “intelligence”, told them that a “bullet doesn’t ask for an address”

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi
  • Published 14.12.19, 2:44 AM
  • Updated 14.12.19, 3:42 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Jawaharlal Nehru University Telegraph file picture

A plainclothes officer claiming to be from “intelligence” grilled the elderly parents of a Jawaharlal Nehru University student in south Kashmir and told them a “bullet doesn’t ask for an address”, leaving them deeply upset.

Aejaz Ahmad Rather, a PhD scholar of history, was general secretary of the JNU Students’ Union during the previous academic year and has participated in the recent agitation against the hostel fee hike.

A member of the SFI, Rather, who is from the CPM stronghold of Kulgam in Jammu and Kashmir, has also appeared on TV debates on the fee hike and the removal of the erstwhile state’s special status.

“Around noon on December 7, a plainclothes man claiming to be an intelligence operative visited my family in Sopat, Tangpora village of Kulgam district in Kashmir,” he told The Telegraph.

“He interrogated my old parents, seeking details such as our family income and the professions of members of not just my family but also our extended family.”

Rather’s parents, both senior citizens, are fruit growers. Rather’s father retired as a government schoolteacher in 2004, and the family survives on his pension and the income from their orchard. Their pears sold at throwaway prices this year because of the shutdown, and they haven’t been able to sell their apples yet. Most of their apple trees got destroyed in this year’s heavy, premature snowfall.

“The intelligence operative used coercive language with my parents, asking them to pressure me into severing my political engagements,” he said.

“He told them to ask me to look for a ‘better path’, in effect, to ask me to dissociate myself from political activism and submit to the government’s corrupt, communal and unconstitutional activities. “He threatened my family that I would face unspeakable consequences if I didn’t follow their diktats. He threatened them in a highly disrespectful manner by telling them that ‘goli kisi ka address poochh kar naheen chalti (a bullet doesn’t ask for an address after being fired).”

Rather said the officer’s visit left his parents in shock, and that his siblings had to return home from the various parts of Kashmir they now lived in to calm their parents.

A local police officer told the family that the man who had visited their home was not from his department.

This newspaper is yet to receive replies to queries on the incident, emailed to the home ministry spokesperson as well as the Jammu and Kashmir home secretary.

Rather added: “The officer asked why I kept appearing on TV and whether we were involved in any illegal activity or shestarkaem.”

“Shestarkaem”, a Kashmiri word, means “ironwork” and is a euphemism for rebellion.

Rather had appeared on NDTV to speak about the fee hike last month. In the recent past, he has also appeared on television channels to discuss the shutdown of Jammu and Kashmir since August 5.

Rather became an SFI member in 2013 while doing his MPhil at Jamia Millia Islamia here. He had studied in Anantnag and Srinagar till then.

Over the past month, sleuths have visited the homes of six JNU student leaders — including Rather, his successor Satish Chandra Yadav, and students’ union vice-president Saket Moon — in four states.

The students belong to political groups ranging from the Congress’s National Students Union of India to the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation, a far-Left outfit.

JNU students are currently boycotting their exams in protest against the changed hostel rules, including the fee hike, and the scrapping of reservation for the underprivileged in the hostels. The police have used violence to break up two student marches outside the campus.