Naveed Jatt’s counsel says he was detained illegally; LeT militant killed in Budgam was minor when taken into custody in 2014

ISHFAQ NASEEM
Top commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Naveed Jutt, who the Jammu and Kashmie Police suspect was responsible for the killing of Rising Kashmir editor-in-chief Shujaat Bukhari, as well as of a number of government forces, was in touch with his parents in Pakistan while he was in detention in the state.
The LeT militant, who gave security forces a slip at several encounters before he was killed at Chattergam in Budgam district on Wednesday, had also appealed to the high court seeking release on the grounds that he was “illegally detained”.
According to police records, on the basis of which they pressed charges of murder against Jatt, it was revealed that the high court had quashed his detention order under the Public Safety Act (PSA) as he had complained that his trial was being delayed in the cases registered against him at various police stations in Kashmir.
Jatt managed to get his Class 5 certificate from his parents in Pakistan to file a petition before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court challenging his “illegal” detention under the PSA as he was a minor at the time of his arrest in 2014. The certificate, which was issued by the Punjab Examination Commission, shows that he passed the exam in 2010.
He used to write to his parents and had even sought to have the charges against him under the PSA quashed so that he could be deported to Pakistan. However, authorities continued to keep him under detention and charged him under the Act again after the high court quashed the charges.
The detention documents of the LeT militant identify him as a resident of the Pindi Bori area of Multan in Pakistan. His father, according to the documents, was a retired driver of the Pakistani Army. The police, in a statement, revealed that Jatt was trained at a madrassa in Pakistan as well as at militant training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Before Jatt escaped from police custody at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar in February, he was booked in seven cases at various police stations, including in South Kashmir’s Shopian, Bijbehara and Anantnag.
In the detention orders against him, the government had said it was issuing the PSA orders against Jatt to “regulate his continued presence in the state. In the PSA detention order that was issued by the state Home Dpartment on 17 March, 2015, it was noted that he was being detained “for a period of six months with effect from 18 March, 2015, or till the arrangements for his deportation from the state to his native country are made, whichever is earlier”.
Jatt was shifted from the Kathua district jail to the central jail in Srinagar after he had pointed out to the high court that he was a minor. His lawyer, advocate Shafaqat Hussain, said he had moved a petition before the high court highlighting that he was being “denied justice”.
“When Naveed was arrested for the first time in 2014, we was a minor at that time. But the state detained him under the PSA, which was in violation of the law. Under the PSA, a minor can’t be detained. He should have been kept at a juvenile justice home. Instead, he was kept at the district jail Kathua,” Hussain said.
The advocate said it was only after the high court’s “intervention” that Jatt was shifted from the district jail in Kathua to the central jail in Srinagar as the trial of the cases pending against him was on in courts in Kashmir. The petition Jatt filed had noted: “After the expiry of the period of detention, the detune was not shifted out of the preventive custody but continued to be lodged at the district jail in Kathua.”
It further pointed out that the LeT militant’s six-month-long “detention order expired in 2015” but “he continued to be in custody at the Kathua district jail illegally, and on 16 March, 2016, the respondents passed the impugned order of detention and directed the lodgement of the detune at the district jail in Kathua”.
In an order earlier issued by Justice Hasnain Masoodi of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, it was noted that the detention order against Jatt had “lost its force for a period of six months with effect from 17 March, 2015”. When Naveed had complained that the trial in the cases against him was delayed, the court had directed that the “investigation be carried out expeditously so that the outcome of the investigation is laid before the competent court and trial concluded without delay”.

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