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Waheed Parra Stares at Longer Incarceration as J&K Police Brings up New Case

Once called a "role model" by the BJP, every time the youth leader's name has been cleared, he has been picked up in a new case.

Srinagar: The Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police will interrogate the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed Parra in connection with their investigations into the alleged links of unnamed J&K politicians with Pakistan and militants, officials said.

The CIK had last year filed an FIR (31/2020) at Srinagar’s Shergari police station in connection with “militancy cases” in Jammu and Kashmir. “It is an open FIR,” said a senior police officer, who asked not to be named.

The officer said it includes sections 13 (advocates, abets, advises or incites the commission of, any unlawful activity), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), 39 (offence relating to support given to a terrorist organisation) and 40 (invitation another person to provide money or other property and intention that it should be used) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. There are also sections 124-A (sedition), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (war against the Government of India) and 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121) of Indian Penal Code

According to Waheed’s counsel, Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, he has not been named in CIK’s FIR. However, the police officer quoted above said his interrogation is “necessary to tie the loose ends” of the probe connecting “unscrupulous politicians” of Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: ‘No Whisper’ of Involvement in Earlier Chargesheet: NIA Court Grants Bail to Waheed Parra

The CIK FIR blames unnamed politicians of Jammu and Kashmir for “aiding and supporting” militancy, and establishing “relations with different Pakistan-supported terrorist and secessionist organisations operating in Jammu and Kashmir for a number of reasons”.

Waheed, a confidante of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, is the president of the party’s youth wing and a vote-puller. Known for his political acumen, he played an instrumental role in the 2014 assembly election when the PDP emerged as the single largest party of J&K.

“When our party came to power,” said a PDP leader, wishing anonymity, “Waheed helped a lot of people, many of them his detractors. He is a person who believes in winning over people with kindness and love. He believes in reconciliation over retribution.”

The PDP leader recalled the formation of the PDP-BJP alliance in J&K in 2015 when Waheed chose to “steer the boat” of J&K Sports Council, a government body that was “almost defunct and marred by maladministration”.

“He worked night and day to devise strategies for weaning away youngsters from the path of violence. He strongly believed that sports could bring the change required in Kashmir, and it happened,” the PDP leader said.

At Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, at the peak of the mass unrest in Kashmir in 2018 against civilian and militant killings when the cries of freedom dominated the airwaves, then Union home minister Rajnath Singh described Waheed as a “role model” for the youngsters of Kashmir.

“Youth have the capability and capacity to make real changes. Waheed believes in their power and he used his energy and resources to get more and more youth into sporting activities,” the PDP leader said, crediting Waheed with the revival of sporting activities in Kashmir.

An unending saga of arrests and cases

Waheed was arrested along with dozens of mainstream political leaders on August 5, 2019, when the BJP-led Central government read down Article 370 of the constitution and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.

In February last year, after nearly six months, Waheed was released from a sub-jail in Srinagar and put under house arrest, nearly a month after cops had nabbed former J&K Police DSP Davinder Singh along with a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Naveed Babu, when they were on way to Jammu, the winter capital of J&K on January 11, 2020.

Singh, who is currently out on bail, was suspended from service by J&K Police. The case was later taken over by the National Investigations Agency (NIA). The agency filed a case (1/2020/NIA/JMU, dated Jan 17, 2020) under Sections 18, 19, 20, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act; Section 7/25 of Arms Act; and Section 3/4 of ES Act.

Also read: ‘Vendetta’ Cry as NIA Arrests PDP Leader Waheed Parra Days After He Filed DDC Polls Nomination

On November 25, 2020, the NIA arrested Waheed, who was still in house detention, in the DSP Singh’s case. The arrest was made on the alleged disclosure of Hizb militant Naveed.

A special NIA court today charged 26 year old Mujeeb Ahmed on terrorism charges Credit : PTI/ Representational

Representative Image of NIA officers. Photo: PTI/Files

The arrest took place three days after he had filed nomination papers from Pulwama for the DDC elections. He won the election but could not take the oath of office as he was in jail. On January 9, the NIA court granted bail to Waheed.

In its order, the NIA court in Jammu said there was “not even a whisper” about the involvement of Waheed in terror activities. According to PDP, Waheed’s name is not mentioned in the charge sheet or the supplementaries filed by the agency in the anti-terror case.

Binning the “so called disclosure” of Hizb militant Naveed, the courts said its “legal value” was “seriously hit by Section 25 of the Evidence Act”, which says that such confessional statement can only be recorded under Section 164 CrPC by a magistrate. “Not one protected witness named Parra,” the judge said while highlighting loopholes in the NIA’s case.

Also read: ‘No Whisper’ of Involvement in Earlier Chargesheet: NIA Court Grants Bail to Waheed Parra

“This kind of inaction on the part of the investigating agency clearly postulates the fact that they were not intending to array the present applicant as ‘accused’ in the present case. It was only after the presentation of the original charge sheet as well as the supplementary charge sheet against the other two accused persons, the investigating agency had woke up from deep slumber and they had chosen to apprehend the present applicant Waheed-ur-Rahman Para on 25th November 2020, alleging that he was involved in the present case and the basis of their allegations was the same statement of accused Naveed Mushtaq, which was recorded by the investigating agency in the month of February 2020,” the judge observed, while setting him free.

When Waheed was walking out of the Jammu district jail where he was lodged by the NIA, he was again arrested. Later, a team of J&K’s police CIK wing took him to Srinagar. He has been lodged in the Central Jail since then.

“Some of his associates have been already questioned in the case (FIR No 31/2020) while others are expected to be questioned in coming days after we get his custody from the NIA,” said a police officer. Additional director general of police, R.K. Swain, who heads J&K Police’s CIK wing, could not be reached for comments.

In their response to the court, the J&K police, while objecting to Waheed’s fresh bail plea which was rejected on February 23, said the “accused had been in touch with ANEs (Anti-National Elements) and OGWs (Over Ground Workers), which includes some accused persons who are presently lodged in jail in NIA case”.

“These accused are also to be questioned in the instant case after seeking permission from NIA court Jammu,” the police told the court in Srinagar through its counsel.

Rejecting his bail plea, the court observed: “If personal liberty and the security of state are pitted against each other, the latter will prevail. If enlarged on bail, the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country will be endangered.”

Invoking the controversial Safoora Zargar case, the police had argued that the bail application be denied as the evidence against the accused is “prima facie true”.

Political conspiracy alleged

The PDP smells a political conspiracy in Waheed’s continued imprisonment. “Political rivalries have become the order of the day. Ruling parties are time and again blamed for framing their opponents who may be the greatest patriots,” Waheed’s counsel told the Srinagar court.

The court, however, rejected the argument, noting that the case diary showed that Parra played an “active role in funding” militancy. The police counsel also told the court that Waheed had “established clandestine connections with different Pakistan-supported terrorist and secessionist organisations operating in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Also read: ‘Tool to Hound Political Opponents’: Mehbooba Mufti Writes to ED, Urges it to Follow Due Process

Another PDP leader said the charges filed by the NIA and the J&K Police against Waheed are similar in nature. “In both the cases, barring few differences, similar sections of UAPA have been filed against Waheed. Why is it that the court in one case grants him bail while in another, he is termed as a threat to the country’s sovereignty?”

The PDP president Mehbooba told The Wire that the NIA court in Jammu while granting bail to Waheed last month had stated that mere allegations without any substantial proof do not amount to any crime.

“But the same allegations and more have been levelled against him to keep him in jail. It is obvious that the PDP leaders are being targeted for their ideology of peace with dignity, not surrender. The prolonged imprisonment of Waheed is a political score settling exercise, nothing else. We expect better from our judiciary,” she added.