A resident of Jammu and Kashmir has been booked for “promoting enmity” after he said that he had no expectations from non-local officials posted in the Union Territory, reported The Indian Express on Tuesday.
The man was identified as 50-year-old Sajad Rashid Sofi and a resident of Wani Mohalla area in Safapora village, Ganderbal district. He was first arrested after making the comments at a public hearing and then granted interim bail on June 12 by a magistrate court till June 21. However, the police kept him under preventive detention, saying he was a potential “threat to peace”.
On June 10, Sofi made the comments during a meeting of locals with the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor’s Advisor Baseer Ahmad Khan. The administration has been holding public hearings across the Union Territory in an attempt to reach out to all residents.
High-ranking officials, including Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner Krittika Jyotsna, had attended the meeting.
The police report said that during the meeting, a civil society group led by Sofi put forward its demands. “While putting forward his demands before the advisor sahib, he used the following words: ‘I can have expectations from you because you are a Kashmiri and you can understand us. I can grab you by the collar and seek answers. But what expectations can I have from officers who are outsiders?’” the report said, according to The Indian Express.
The police report noted that Jyotsna, an Indian Administrative Service official of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, got up from her chair to object to Sofi’s statement. Jyotsna has not made any statements on the matter yet.
“The circumstances of the incident and from the statements, a crime under 153A [promoting enmity] of the Indian Penal Code is made...” the police report said. “The accused has been arrested and his family has been informed. He is on police remand at the police station [in] Safapora.”
The police justified the preventive detention, claiming that he could harass the witnesses and obstruct the inquiry.
On June 12, the Ganderbal Chief Judicial Magistrate court noted that bail was a rule and its rejection was only an exception.
“Bail in non-bailable crime cannot be refused without assigning strong reason although bail is a discretion of the court and discretion of bail cannot be exercised arbitrarily,” the judge said, reported The Wire. “The alleged committed crime attributed to the applicant does not carry life imprisonment or death penalty debarring this court to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant.”