November 2002 News

Bail For Rubaiya Kidnapper Day Before Mufti Swearing In

1 November 2002
The Indian Express
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: On the eve of the swearing in of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at the head of a PDP-Congress coalition government in J-K, a Srinagar court today ordered the release of one of the main accused in the kidnapping of his daughter in 1989. Senior Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Showkat Bakhshi was today released on bail by a designated court after spending 12 years in jail. Rubaiya had been kidnapped by the JKLF on December 8 in 1989. After a week-long drama, her freedom came at a price: five jailed JKLF commanders had to be released. Bakhshi is also an accused in the killing of four IAF personnel and the murder of Lasa Koul, a senior Doordarshan official. He is perceived to be a hardliner in the JKLF. In fact, the Front has kept away from him and did not even pursue his case which is seen as the reason behind the delay in his release. This time, in a departure from the normal practice, the police did not re-arrest Bakhshi after he was granted bail. Sources said word had gone out to the police, in keeping with the new regime’s liberal stance on such issues, that the court orders had to be followed in letter and spirit. Mufti has promised to release all prisoners arrested under POTA, review the cases of all detenues and release those who are not facing any serious charges. The deal with the militants in 1989 to secure the release of the daughter of Mufti — who was then Home Minister in the V P Singh government — was seen as a turning point in the insurgency in Kashmir. In an interview with The Indian Express, he today denied that the decision to release the militants had anything to do with him. The decision was taken by the Prime Minister, he said. He, however, added that because of ‘‘paternal affection’’ he went along with it. He pointed out that at least ‘‘those four or five weren’t foreigners, they were from our soil’’. ‘‘It was a tragic incident at a time when I was Home Minister. I had told my family that Niky (Rubaiya) should remain careful, she shouldn’t go out. I had never thought that my daughter would be kidnapped,’’ he said. ‘‘Dr Farooq Abdullah had released 150 militants before that but the release of four or five militants was projected by some people in such a way as if it was a turning point. The situation was already out of control. In the 1989 elections, not even one per cent of the people came out to vote,’’ he said.

 

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