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Rights

J&K: Policewoman Seen Berating Forces for Repeated Search Ops Booked Under UAPA

A video showing SPO Saima Akhter shouting at security forces over a search operation at her house had gone viral. Akhter has been discharged from duty now.

Srinagar: A special police officer of Jammu and Kashmir police has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and disengaged from service after a video showing her arguing with security forces over the search of her house and complaining that they are being “subjected to such harassment regularly” went viral.

The incident took place in southern Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Police has claimed that they booked her under the UAPA and Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code for “uttering statements glorifying violent actions of terrorism” and “resisting [the] search party”.

In the video, which was shared widely on social media, showed a woman identified as 27-year-old Saima Akhter. A resident of Frisal in Kulgam, Akhter can be heard asking security forces why they search her house regularly.

“If anything happens to my mother, you will have to face the consequences. Why do you come here again and again? Nobody is here. Go to the houses where militants are hiding, there is no one in this house. My mother is ill…you didn’t even allow us to have sehri,” the SPO can be heard saying.

In the video, neither is the SPO nor are members of the forces visible, but their conversation can be heard.

Also read: Amid Biting Cold, Military’s Cordon and Search Operations Continue in Kashmir

Akhter is also heard telling the forces that she will not allow them to enter the house unless they will remove their shoes. “They are subjecting us to this harassment. Even our neighbours have to face this,” she can be heard saying.

In a fit of rage, she can also be heard cursing at the forces and telling them that militants would not have spared them had they been here.

Talking to The Wire, Akhter’s mother Jawaharia Begum, said the forces had launched a search operation in their locality on the first day of the holy month of Ramzan.

“When we woke up for sehri, we had tea. When the forces came inside our house, my daughter got angry. They had been regularly coming in and searching our house. This time too they barged inside and searched our house thoroughly,” she said over the phone from Kulgam.

Jawharia Begum said that her daughter did not return from work at the Yaripora police station on the day on which the events in the video transpired.

“We were shocked to know that she has been arrested. We are very poor and have no one in the world except our daughter,” she said.

Akhter is her parents’ only child and the lone breadwinner for the family.

People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted about the incident, noting that “even women are not spared in Naya Kashmir.”

Police version

In a statement, Jammu & Kashmir police said that Akhter had “resisted” the search party, turned violent, and uttered statements glorifying violent actions of terrorism during an operation.

Also read: Kashmir: UN Human Rights Experts Express Concern on Domicile Law; ‘Baseless’ Fears Says India

“On 14 April 2021, after receiving specific input regarding the presence of terrorists in Karewa Mohallah of Village Frisal, a search operation was launched there. During the course of search, the search party was obstructed by a woman identified as Saima Akther D/O Ghulam Nabi Rah R/O Frisal. The woman resisted the search party and turned violent, and uttered statements glorifying violent actions of terrorism. She captured a video through her personal phone and forwarded it on social media platforms with the aim of disrupting the search,” the police statement reads.

According to the police, Akhter has been arrested and subsequently terminated from service. “Regarding the incident, case with FIR no. 19/2021 U/S 353 IPC, 13 UAPA Act stands registered in Police Station Yaripora and investigation of case is in progress,” the police said.

While Section 13 of UAPA is for taking part in or committing or advocating, abetting, advising or inciting  the commission of any unlawful activity as defined under the law, Section 353 of IPC deals with using force or criminal assault for preventing government servants from discharging their duties.

When contacted, senior superintendent of Police Kulgam, Gurinder Pal Singh termed Akhter’s allegation that forces are frequently searching a particular house as “incorrect”.