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Monday, July 15, 2024

Bail Granted for Kashmiri Poet Ahmed Farhad

Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad, previously declared a missing person and arrested on terrorism charges, has been granted bail by the AJK High Court amidst legal and human rights concerns.

Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad was granted bail by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) High Court on Friday, weeks after his controversial arrest. The court approved his bail plea against a surety bond worth Rs200,000. His arrest had been earlier termed “illegal” by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which declared him a “missing person” until his return.

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Farhad had been missing since May 15, leading to a First Information Report (FIR) being registered at the Lohebher Police Station in Islamabad under Section 427 and 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). It was later revealed that he was arrested by the Dherkot Police in Kashmir and was wanted by the Saddar Police Station in Muzaffarabad in another terrorism-related case. The IHC stated that Farhad’s arrest was illegal, and the concerned institution had failed to recover him.

Judicial Proceedings and Bail

The poet was initially remanded to Rara Jail until June 24 by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Muzaffarabad. During a hearing, the court ordered his transfer to Rara Jail with instructions to reappear on June 24. Despite an incomplete charge sheet, Farhad’s bail application was rejected by the Anti-Terrorism Court on June 4. The AJK High Court’s decision to grant bail came as a relief to his family and supporters, who had been advocating for his release.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan played a crucial role in revealing Farhad’s whereabouts. On May 29, in response to IHC’s directions, he confirmed that Farhad was in AJK police custody. This announcement came two weeks after Farhad was first reported missing, during which time his family and friends were left in distress. His wife, Urooj Zainab, had moved the IHC seeking her husband’s recovery and demanded an investigation into his disappearance.

Farhad’s disappearance and subsequent arrest brought significant attention to his case, highlighting issues of enforced disappearances and the legal system’s handling of such cases. The IHC had directed the federal government to compensate the family of another missing person with Rs3 million, reflecting the gravity of such incidents. Farhad’s case underscores the ongoing challenges in addressing human rights violations in the region.

The IHC’s order mandated that the investigation officer record Farhad’s statement under Section 164 before a judicial magistrate and proceed based on his statement. This legal step aims to ensure transparency and accountability in the investigation process. Farhad’s supporters hope that his case will lead to broader discussions on the rights of detainees and the need for legal reforms.