Pale and weak from illness, Haleema lay on the bed in a tidy room of her modest house in Malik Mohalla, Shopian. Beside her, several of her family members look on as she sobs for her son who has been jailed under Public Safety Act for allegedly being involved in protest against government forces in the area.
Gatoo, 19, was picked up by police from his residence on Feb 2 and booked for his alleged role in stone pelting incidents.
A few days later before Gatoo could be out on bail, he was booked again under some different charges. And then followed a raft of cases registered against him.
As Gatoo’s family approached courts and got bail in the old cases, the new ones would surface from nowhere until he was finally booked under PSA on Friday
“Police came up with new charges whenever we got a bail,” said Gatoo’s brother, Bilal Ahmad. Bilal says that finally when they moved an application before Additional Special Mobile Magistrate, Shopian, seeking a detailed report from police in all FIRs involving Gatoo, police slapped PSA on him and sent him to Kot Bhalwal jail, Jammu.
As soon as Haleema, who is already grappling with many ailments, heard about the detention of her son under PSA, her condition worsened and she was hospitalized.
“My mother is suffering from multiple ailments. She passed out as soon as she heard that he (Gatoo) was sent to a Jammu under PSA’’ said Bilal.
Gatoo too has a medical condition that needs an immediate surgery but, according to family, police has denied him the treatment. On September 22, Gatoo in a state of excruciating pain was shifted to District Hospital Shopian from where doctors referred him to SMHS, Srinagar for a surgery. But instead, he was sent to police hospital Srinagar.
“Doctors even at police hospital did refer him to SMHS but he was not taken there,” said a family member, who does not wish to be named.
The tryst of Gatoo with police and jail is not new. He was just 11 when police picked him up in 2008 and detained him for more than three months. He was released only after his family managed to pay a hefty sum of money as kickback to police from its paltry resources,” he said.
“I clearly recollect he then walked out of jail only after his family paid rather good amount of money to the police,” claimed a close friend of Gatoo.
Haleema sits up and slouches against the wall with the help of her daughter. She clears her throat and again asks for her son.—GK