“We borrowed money”: Families struggle to bring Kashmiri prisoners home in lockdown

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Srinagar: After nine months, when Mudasir Ahmed Wani was released from jail in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the country was locked down to contain the spread of COVID-19. He couldn’t come home.

An auto-rickshaw driver by profession, Wani was arrested in August 2019 as the government cracked down on Kashmir before and after repealing the region’s special status. Subsequently, he was charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and lodged kilometers away from home in a jail Agra.

On 16 March, his PSA was quashed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court. But Wani’s wife had no monetary resources to bring him back. She was left with no option but to pool in money from relatives to get her husband back home. “We collected 20,000 rupees and paid the fare to a cab driver and brought Mudasir back home,” she said. “Now we have to pay this money back to relatives.”

Wani, a resident of Pazalpora village of Bandipora, north Kashmir, reached home yesterday. However, he was not alone in this ordeal. Two more Kashmiris, whose PSA orders were revoked by the government as part of the drive to decongest the jails during the pandemic, were stuck in Uttar Pradesh too.

Javaid Ahmed Parray, a resident of Rafiabad village of Baramulla, north Kashmir, only reached home from Agra two days ago. He was among the thousands detained in August.

“He was released a fortnight ago,” said a brother of Parray. “We were informed by the jail authorities, but were not able to get him back because we had no money.”

To bring the stranded Parray back, his family, too, had to borrow 27,000 rupees from their relatives and neighbours.

And so was the case with the family of Bashir Ahmed Rather, a resident of Ganderbal, central Kashmir.

“We borrowed money [20,000 rupees] and brought Bashir back to home in a Taveera,” one of the family members said. He added that it is easy to get Kashmiri prisoners shifted to outside jails but once they are released, families find it hard to get them back. (Inputs from KNT)

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