Days after the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) General Secretary Satish Chandra Yadav and another student leader, Jitendra Suna, complained about police intimidation to their families in their native villages, former JNUSU general secretary Aejaz Ahmad Rather too on Saturday shared that a similar incident took place with his parents on December 7. In a Facebook post, Rather said that his family was intimidated by a person in plain clothes who identified himself as an “intelligence official” and used derogatory language. He reportedly threatened them and said, “A bullet never asks for an address.” Rather, who is known to be outspoken about several issues, had recently voiced his concerns over the fee hike in the university and abrogation of Article 370.
He said, “In the last few years, I have been using various valid platforms to articulate my concerns about various issues confronting society in different ways. I have always believed in the power of rational communication and debate even in these times of coercion, fear and intimidation. However, I am gravely distressed with the recent events wherein the state and its different agencies have directly targetted my family in Kashmir in relation to my activism and as a former member of JNUSU.”
He added, “On 7th December 2019, around afternoon, a plainclothes man claiming to be an intelligence operative, visited my family in Sopat, Tangpora village of district Kulgam in Kashmir. He interrogated my old-parents for detailed information including family income, professions of not only my family members but extended family. The harrasment and intimidation that my whole family especially my octogenarian parents faced because this interrogation can't be explained with words. The intelligence operative started using coercive language with my parents to pressurise me to sever my political engagements.”
“He told them to ask me to look for ‘better path’, effectively asking for my dissociation from political activism and submit to the government's corrupt, communal and unconstitutional activities. They further threatened my family that I will face unspeakable consequences if I don't follow their dictats. In a highly disrespectful manner he threatened them by telling that ‘Goli kisi ka address pooch kar nahin Chalti’ (sic),” he wrote.
Narrating his ordeal, Rather further said, “The said person has warned my family to force me to stop participating in different debates and programs particularly related to Kashmir issue and JNU. This targetted harassment of my family is a direct consequence of my active participation in the ongoing movement in JNU for the rollback of drastic fee hike as well as representing the voices of dissent both in JNU and Kashmir.”
Rather maintained that “such tactics of coercion and intimidation” were direct attack on his right to free speech and expression. He said, “At the same time, it is deeply painful to see my old parents and whole family who have no connection with my political activism being unnecessarily harassed and threatened just because of my political activism.”
Unfazed by the intimidation, Rather said that such tactics “cannot break my resolve to speak truth to power. I will keep fighting for the restoration of democracy.” He added, “I will keep raising the voices of the economically and socially deprived sections. These tactics of threatening me with open death threats, and creating fear in my family won't make me submit to the brutal and inhumane tactics of the state.”