DR QASIM FAKTOO: HEART-WRENCHING TALE OF SACRIFICE & SUFFERINGS
||KASHMIR LEADER years in jail in February this year has authored 19 books & more than 125 students completed their graduation and post graduation in prison under his guidance On February 24 this year, Chairman Muslim Deeni Mahaz Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo completed 24 years of incarceration “for holding political be – liefs that are unacceptable to the ruling establishment”. He is the longest serving convict in Central Jail, Srinagar Dr Qasim was arrested on February 5, 1993 and booked under section 3 (TADA), under section 302 r/w 120- B RPC. TADA Court Jammu acquit – ted him and other two accused in the case on July 14, 2001 and made the following observation: “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove the case against the accused persons.”
The Government challenged the acquittal in the Supreme Court which sentenced him to life imprisonment with this direction at the end of the judgment: “They (accused) shall be given benefit of the period already undergone (undertrial period) by them.” Dr Qasim, the Chairman of Muslim Deeni Mahaz (MDM), is serving life imprison – ment for his alleged involvement in the murder of a human rights activist H N Wanchoo in 1992. However, the counsel of Dr Qasim rejects the charges and alleges that he was implicated through fabricated evidences. During his imprisonment in July 2006, he was awarded Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and is presently working toward his second Ph.D. programme. He has authored 19 books and delivered lectures to uni – versity students and more than 125 students completed their graduation and post graduation in prison under his guidance.
One of his son’s Ahmad bin Qasim, 17, has not spent even a day with his father, his elder brother Muhammad bin Qasim, 25, only spent nine months of his entire life with him while their mother, Asiya spent only two years of 26 years of her married life in the company of her husband
During his imprisonment in July 2006, he was awarded Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and is presently working toward his second Ph.D. programme. He has authored 14 books and delivered lectures to university students and more than 125 students completed their graduation and post graduation in prison under his guidance
On completion of 14 years, J&K High Court directed the Jail authorities to place Dr Qasim’s case before the Review Board for review of his case. The Review Board while taking into consideration all aspects of the case recommended premature release of Dr Qasim in its meeting held on June 6, 2008. The J&K Government rejected the Review Board’s Recommendations not on the basis of interpretation of the life imprisonment that life imprisonment means imprisonment of convicts whole natural life but on the basis of J&K Jail Manual Rule 54.1 which, ac cording to Government, debars TADA lifer convicts from release on completion of two-third (14 years) of 20 years. The J&K High Court quashed the impugned order and directed the Government to consider the case on the basis of J&K Jail Manual “Keeping in view the discussion made herein – above read with law laid down by the Apex Court, the respondents had to consider the case of the petitioner in terms of the Jail Manual and lay laid down by the Apex Court. Viewed thus, the writ petition is allowed impugned order is quashed and respondents are directed to consider the case of the petitioner as indicated above and made a decision,” the OWP No. 997/2009 dated June 5, 2010 states.
The Government challenged the order before the double bench of the High Court which observed that “the petition as highlighted warrants favourable consideration but impediment in the way of respondent (writ petitioner) is the scope of Rule 54.1 of the JK Jail Man – ual which orders him ineligible.” The High Court Bar Association has released a book ‘The Victim of Political Vendetta’ which is the compilation of court cases and chargesheets filed by the State and discusses the judgments and cases filed against Faktoo. Last year on November 16, a single bench of the High Court dismissed his plea for early release. The single bench had observed that life imprisonment cannot be equivalent to imprisonment for 14 or 20 years and said life sentence meant imprisonment for life. The State government has also op posed his release with the same argument that “life” means imprisonment till death. “He is suffering incarcera – tion for holding political beliefs that are unacceptable to the ruling establishment and he has been convicted under an infamous anti-militancy law in a trial that manifestly was wanting in judicial fairness and overzealous prosecutors employed dubious investigatory methods for collecting mate – rials of evidential value on the basis of which Dr Qasim was ultimately tried and sentenced for life,” said noted lawyer Sayid Tasaduq Hussain. Hu – man Rights Activist, advocate Sayid Arshad Andrabi said that analyzing the history of events associated with the trial of Dr Qasim who is scholarly figure and has spent his time educat – ing the hundreds of inmates inside jail preparing them for examinations of distance learning courses under IGNOU, concrete recommendations were made by jail authorities for granting him remission. “Petitions were filed in the JK high court seeking interpretation of the provisions of the jail manual and asking for the rea – son for selective approach in granting remission in similar cases. But all attempts have failed.
The reason is simple, the ruling regimes who have no moral or legal right to remain in power are afraid of him. They have no answer to his arguments. Failing to secure justice under the existing available redress mechanism, the individual can only be advised to invoke the remedies available under International Humanitarian Law,” he said. Dr Qasim was born in Zaldagar, Srinagar on November 13, 1967. He is married to Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chief Aasiya Andrabi. He has a doctorate in Islamic Studies and has authored and edited 19 books (5 in English and 14 in Urdu). He joined Hizbul Mujahi – deen in 1989 as its spokesperson. Dr Qasim’s wife, chairperson of Dukhta – ran-e-Millat, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi has spent little time with her husband after their marriage. One of his son’s Ahmad bin Qasim, 17, has not spent even a day with his father, his elder brother Muhammad bin Qasim, 25, only spent nine months of his entire life with him while their mother, Asiya spent only two years of 26 years of her married life in the company of her husband, reads a news story in Rising Kashmir. “His absence had a deep impact in the lives of our children. My husband and I were both prepared for worse and when he was arrested, people used to be martyred in deten – tion. However, the upbringing of our children suffered a lot.”