MAR 03, Agencies
A Kashmiri shawl vendor was arrested by the Kerala police for the ludicrous reason that the name of his village, Shalkot, printed on his I-card appeared suspiciously similar to Sialkot, a city in Pakistan.
The trader, Basheer Ahmad Chaupan, from Shalkot, Sholipora, a village on the outskirts of Budgam, Kashmir , had traveled all the way to Kerala to sell shawls to help pull his family out of financial difficulties.
But little did he know that leaving home to shoulder some responsibilities of his blind father would bring days of pain and anxiety for him and his family.
Kerala police pounced on him as soon as they saw “Shalkot” written on his identity card. They interpreted it as “Sialkot” and promptly put Chaupan behind bars.
His family in the valley said that they had contacted the Kerala police in a bid to get Chaupan shifted to a jail in Kashmir, but the Kerala police flatly refused.
Kerala police had not yet got in touch with their counterparts in Kashmir to verify Chaupan’s identity, sources said.
Increasingly, traders, artisans and students from the valley fall an easy prey to the police in other states, who label them as Pakistanis or foreign militants and put them behind bars, earning laurels from their superiors.
During the recent session of the state’s legislature, J & K chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had to summon an emergency press conference in connection with a similar case.