Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir police have tried to score a brownie point over Congress leader Saifuddin Soz by allowing him to come out of his house to visit his ailing sister in a Srinagar neighbourhood and capturing the visit on video to substantiate their claim that he is not under house detention.
Soz explained in a signed statement that he went to see his ailing sister in Srinagar’s Gulbarg Colony, Hyderpora, about a couple of furlongs from his own residence where he, as claimed by him, has been under detention for nearly one year.
The stattement said, “Since the police would not allow me to travel without their vehicle, two personal security officers accompanied me. When I returned home, the police produced and released a video showing that I was a free man. This version of the police is nothing more than a white lie.”
The Congress leader said that later that day he tried to go out again to see his daughter in the neighbourhood but the police would not allow him. “I confirm the fact that I’m under ‘house arrest’ and I can’t go out, at all. The government version that I am a free man is wrong”, he said.
He asserted, “I have not violated any law of the land, yet I am under detention. My detention shows how civil liberties stand suppressed in Kashmir.”
The J&K government had earlier this week informed the Supreme Court that Soz was not under house detention, prompting it to dispose of a plea by his wife claiming that he had been illegally detained.
On Thursday, the J&K government reiterated that Soz was never detained or put under house arrest. Its spokesperson Rohit Kansal claimed in a tweet that “Saiffudin Soz former MP and Minister not under arrest or detention. He has been to Delhi twice — in October and December. Free to go wherever he likes with usual security drill. No question of lying in Hon SC” (sic)
However, earlier that very day the 83-year-old Congress leader was not allowed to speak to reporters who went to his house near the Srinagar Airport. Soz came to the wall of his house to say he was “not a free man, but kept under illegal house detention”. A few policemen tried to stop him and then a man in civvies, apparently a police officer, grabbed a hand of the Congress leader and whisked him away.
Soz could be heard yelling from behind the boundary wall “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me… This is my house, get out of here.”