“Her education is more important, I can’t afford a break in her career. She will seek political asylum if she is forced to come to India,” said Hurriyat Conference leader Shabir Shah’s wife Dr Bilquees Shah.
Between April 18 and April 24, Sama Shabir, 19-year-old daughter of Hurriyat Conference leader Shabir Shah has been summoned twice under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), in relation to a money laundering case filed against her father in 2004 when Sama was only five years old.
Bilquees, a doctor by profession and Shabir always tried to maintain a line between personal and professional life. “But now, there is no line. My daughter doesn’t have any idea about the case for which she is being summoned. It is clearly illogical,” said Bilquees.
Sama used to accompany her mother to almost every jail in and around J&K and even Tihar to see her father. She had heard it innumerable times that “her father will be never released”.
She was in the news after becoming the first topper of Central Board of School from Jammu and Kashmir by scoring 97.8% marks. She decided to pursue bachelors of laws at the University of Manchester.
But even to be in Manchester, Sama and Bilquees faced many difficulties. “When we applied for the passport, due to pro-freedom affiliation of my husband, her passport was rejected,” Bilquees told NewsClick.
Also Read: Pulwama Attack Aftermath: Kashmiris Threatened and Attacked in Dehradun and Jammu
Finally, she took the matter to court, and after the intervention of judiciary, Bilquees was able to get Sama’s passport. Bilquees managed to get the consumption loan from Jammu and Kashmir Bank and withdrew her General Provident Fund to pay for Sama’s tuition fees as well as accommodation for a year.
“I’m planning to take a loan this year as well. I have spent all of my savings on the house, and my two daughters’ education. I am trying my best to keep all the options open for my children,” Bilquees said.
According to her, she is able to afford Sama’s travelling expenses just once a year. “I asked Sama to remain in the UK even though she had a vacation for a month on the occasion of Easter. We have to be careful about our expenses,” she told NewsClick.
She further said that she has spent all her life to make a good future for her children and will not tolerate anything against them, “If authorities keep summoning my daughter to India, Sama will definitely seek asylum in the UK, as she has nothing to do with this case,” she added.
Sama informed Bilquees that a few officials of the University of Manchester had approached her after finding out about the summons issued by ED and have promised her that they will provide every possible help to her.
Also Read: Security Cover Withdrawn For 18 Separatists, 155 J&K Politicians
While responding to the allegations made by many politicians of India of why children of pro-freedom leaders are studying abroad, Bilquees said that Kashmiri students as well as traders were attacked in many parts of India, especially after the Pulwama attack. In such a situation how can they expect the safety of their wards in the country.
Bilquees is the daughter of Mohammad Iqbal, who retired in 1995 as Deputy Superintendent of Police of Doda district of Jammu division. The ED has also sent house attachment notice to Bilquees and her 17-year-old daughter Sehar.
Sehar has been suffering from depression and is on high doses of medication. According to the family, the continuous detention of her father is the reason behind her medical condition. Her mother said, “This summons and suppression by the authorities are adding to her suffering.”
Sehar recalls an incident when she had written a poem for her father. A few months back, she had accompanied her mother to see her father at Tihar Jail, keeping a paper in her pocket on which she had inked her thoughts. “Once I reached to the checking point, a female cop frisked me. I had covered my head with Hijab. She removed my Hijab and checked almost every hair,” she said.
While frisking, the policewoman found the paper in her pocket and she gave it to another female police officer. “ I told them it is a gift for my father, but that policewoman called another cop and asked him to tear it in front of me,” she said.
On being asked about the house attachment notice, Bilquees says that the land on which her house is built was gifted by her father. He had bought his land in 1999 soon after his retirement and gifted it to her in 2005. She had taken a loan from the bank to construct the house.
She added that this is the only property that belongs to her. This house, in which they are currently living, is located in Effandi Bagh, Rawalpora Santnagar in the outskirts of Srinagar. The other house is the one which Shabir Shah bought after selling the share of his ancestral property in Anantnag in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Bilquees is on child care leave to take care of her daughter and follow up on her husband’s case.
The ED summons has drawn flak from mainstream politicians of J&K. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah tweeted,
She was 5 years old when the case was registered & yet the Enforcement Directorate still felt the need to summon her. Talk about victimising families! ED summons daughter of Shabir Shah in PMLA case of 2005 when she was 5-year-old https://t.co/bQkAWyWKqT
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 24, 2019
Shah was arrested from Srinagar on July 25 and was shifted to Tihar jail on charges of money laundering in a case dating back to 2005.
Read More: Unknown Gunmen Continue to Strike in Kashmir