Kashmir Caged. Story of Parvaiz Ahmad

By Fouziya Tahzeeb

This post is in continuation of the ‘Jail Diaries’ series and refers to the Indian state’s nonchalance even as it incarcerates Kashmiris. In the continuing vein of lawyers, political leaders, juveniles and citizens being locked up and shifted out of Kashmir in the hundreds, this is the story of Parvaiz. Fouziya Tehzeeb visited his family and here is what she wrote:

The Indian government’s talks and actions are never aligned. Every regime has envisioned the dream to mainstream Kashmiri youth, and Maimed another young person at the same time. Stones in the hands are replaced by the Pellet in the eyes. Jobs are created less and Jails are turned full.

Parvaiz Ahmad Tantray, a private school teacher from Handwara, Kupwara is one such example. Parvaiz used to do reporting work in Handwara block. In 2008, he reported the killing of an individual by rebel group (militants) in his neighbouring village. Police accused him for having contact with rebels. Let’s assume for this story that the militants themselves reported it to him, but since 2008 he was summoned at the local police station each time protests used to rock Handwara town. He had no role in any of those events. The single child of his parents and a father of young kids, all he was trying was to mainstream his small world. Yet the memory from the past was repeatedly etched and scribbled deep in his mind by the system.

Most recently, Parvaiz was picked up from his home at midnight on 7 August 2019, just two days after the Abrogation of the special status of J&K. Later, he was shifted from police station Handwara to Central Jail Srinagar. On 22nd August 2019, he was transferred to Agra Jail along with other Kashmiri detainees.

Since he was the sole breadwinner of his family, currently the family has been struggling to make ends meet. His wife and brother-in-law managed to visit him last year in October 2019 with the help of funds raised by the community members. Parvaiz’s father has become numb and one could hardly hear him when he was talking. His old mother, when asked what she thought about this situation and how will it get any better, replied, “Let the world turn upside down. Let it burn into flames. What was dear to me has been snatched away.”

Let us remind ourselves that Parvaiz and several others like him are not in prisons for any crimes! No police case exists against many of them for any actual crime either! They are there probably because the Indian state thinks that intimidation of an entire population requires incarceration and silencing of many people! He is in jail because the police required someone on whom PSA could be slapped easily without much challenge! He can’t be with his family of old parents and young children because more than a decade back some policemen thought he got a story from some militants. Since it is Kashmir, no court had to convict him guilty!