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Bengali migrant workers released by J&K police

SUVOJIT BAGCHI

Forty eight hours after the Director General of Police (DGP) of Jammu & Kashmir police claimed that no one from Bengal was detained in the Kashmir Valley, Zuilfiqar Sheikh (34), a migrant worker, told The Hindu on Thursday that he was detained for 24 days by the police. Zuilfiqar and his friend Haider Ali were both released on Thursday evening after being detained “illegally” by the J&K police.

Human Rights activists said that the detention was “illegal” and actions as per law “may be” initiated against the police. The Hindu first highlighted the disappearance of the two Bengali workers in Kashmir on October 25.

Haider and Zuilfiqar, two migrant workers, from Birbhum district of West Bengal were picked up in Kashmir on October 6 in the presence of Rabiul Ali (30), who is the younger brother of Zuilfiqar.

All of them were taken to the Barmulla police station, while the police denied making any arrest over the last few weeks. Rabiul earlier told The Hindu that they were picked up in connection with the Bardhaman blast case in West Bengal.

On Thursday after his release, Zulfiqar said that they were kept in Baramulla police station for a day and then shifted to a “Cargo police station near Srinagar Airport,” while Haider was shifted to another location. “I was beaten and tortured,” he said. After nine days, he was again brought back to Baramulla and released on Thursday evening. Haider was released as well.

CPI (ML) activist, Malay Tiwari, who was in touch with the family, told The Hindu that following newspaper reports and discussions on social media, the police “decided to release Haider and Zuilfiqar on Thursday.”

However, only a couple of days ago in an interview to a newspaper, the DGP of J&K police K. Rajinder said that no one from Bengal was detained in the Valley. “No one was arrested here (Kashmir) and the few people who had been detained for questioning have already been released,” the DGP said.

Identity proof blunder

Explaining the reasons for his arrest, Zulfiqar said that he gave his personal identity proof to an unknown man to acquire a SIM card. “I made a huge mistake and paid for the blunder,” he said. The J&K police told Sheikh that he is “free and has nothing to fear.” “They told me that I can go back to Birbhum,” Sheikh said.

Mr Tiwari said that they “may initiate legal action” against the police for detaining Zuilfiqar and Haider without giving any information to the family and the court.

Earlier human rights activist Sujato Bhadra said that the police have “violated” Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Supreme Court guidelines as the police did not produce an arrest memo, inform the families or produce the victims in court within 24 hours of the arrest.

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