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Arrested Ganderbal activist set free

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Srinagar: A political activist who was arrested for making comments that upset the deputy commissioner of Ganderbal has been released, officials said on Wednesday.

Sajad Rashid Sofi (50) was released on Tuesday as he had a clean record, an official said.

Sofi’s family confirmed that he was released from Dignibal Sub jail around 8.30 pm on Tuesday.

Sofi was jailed after he told an Advisor of the Lt Governor that he has hopes from a Kashmiri official like him rather than bureaucrats from outside, remarks which offended the Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner, who is an IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh.

After being arrested under Section 153 (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code, Sofi, a resident of Wani Mohalla in Safapora area of Ganderbal district, was granted bail by a court.

However, he was kept under preventive detention by police for allegedly being a “threat to peace”.

Sofi made the remarks at a ‘Janta Darbar’ of Lt Governor’s Advisor Baseer Khan at Mansbal on June 10.

Speaking about the problems faced by the people of his area, Sofi told Khan that he can understand the issues better as compared to officers from outside the union territory because he is a local, according to the police report.

He said, “I can have expectations from you because you are a Kashmiri and you can understand us. I can grab you by the collar and seek answers. But what expectations can I have from officers who are outsiders?”

This comment did not go down well with Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner Krittika Jyotsna, a 2014 IAS officer.

The police report said that Deputy Commissioner stood up from her seat and “strongly objected” to Sofi’s comments.

Sofi was summoned and booked by the police under Section 153 of the IPC on the same night.

“The circumstances of the incident and from the statements, a crime under 153A of the IPC is made,” the police report had said.

Sofi was granted bail by a local court here on Saturday, saying “bail is a rule and its rejection is an exception”.

“Bail in non-bailable crime cannot be refused without assigning a strong reason, although bail is a discretion of the court and discretion of bail cannot be exercised arbitrarily.

“The allegedly committed crime attributed to the applicant does not carry life imprisonment or death penalty, debarring this court to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant. As such, this court has a sufficient reason to exercise discretion of bail in favour of the applicant,” the court said.

However, even after this, the police did not release Sofi and instead booked him under Section 107 of the IPC which entitles them to keep a person under “preventive custody” for being a “threat to peace”.

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