Kashmiri political prisoners under India’s covid Tsunami

Life in Prison

From my experience in prison for 4 months after August 5th 2019 the conditions of the prison in Agra was deplorable in respect to facilities particularly medical facilities which is relevant in the present situation.

Although because of pressure of American senate in my case which made the prison authorities give better medical attention to me as I was suffering with constant urinary tact infection because of my underlying prostrate problem but still it was inadequate and I can imagine what our people are facing behind bars in not only kashmir but in different prisons in India .

The Bar association in kashmir has the other day come out with this statement

“”In view of the disastrous Covid-19 wave throughout India which is consuming thousands of lives per day, the family members of these prisoners are seriously concerned about the health and lives of their imprisoned kith and kin,” a Bar statement said.

Bar while expressing deep concern about the physical conditions of the Kashmiri prisoners in outside jails demanded immediate shifting of these prisoners to the nearest jails in Kashmir valley.

It also appealed that the cases of these prisoners/detainees must be reviewed for parole and in view of the grave pandemic situation be released on parole for the time being.

“In Tihar Jail, New Delhi, Kashmiri prisoner Shahidul Islam is Covid infected. Brain tumor patient Bashir Ahmad Bhat is very sick in prison. Health condition of other prisoners that include Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Khan, Asiya Andrabi, Nahida Nasreen, Ayaz Akbar, Parvaiz Mir and Ferooz Ahmad Bhat is deteriorating fast,” the statement said.””

“The meeting observed that due to Covid-19 restrictions courts are not able to take up cases with the desired priority as such Administration be reviewing cases for shifting or release of the overall prisoners on parole which is the prerogative of the Govt. and not of the judiciary.”””

A Facebook post by a office bearer of bar association is very relevant where he is lamenting and bringing to information to the public at large as follows is an eye opener in respect to the ground situation in the courts :

“””We request chief justice to fix the liberty matters on priority with a roaster before all the single benches on daily basis in jkhc.

Most of the Benches refuse to hear Habeas corpus petitions listed for final hearing under the pretext of non availibility of stenographers in covid period.This is a sorry state of affairs as hundreds of detainees are denied justice and continue to suffer from untestef detentions by the courts.The courts treat liberty matters in abject contrast to the guidelines in this regard and derail the proceedings .DisHeartening to say so but it is truth.Arguing councils are virtually made to beg for justice by courts instead of claiming speedy justice for these cases as a matter of fudamental right.Hope the sorry state of affairs is over and justice done .””

If we see and analyse the above two statements lot is being told in between the lines

• Courts are not listening with the desired priority these cases which are basically Habeas corpus cases which normally are needed to be disposed within one month which in case of Kashmir is never followed and my experience even when my wife approached the Supreme Court there was a delay for 4 months and I was released because of pressure from the American senate where my case was withdrawn in totality and not by court intervention but they had no answer in court and threw in the towel . According to my information even people imprisoned after August 5th 2019 cases are pending on one reason or the other which certainly points out to the fact that the courts in kashmir are an extension of the executive which in my case was to show to people like us that we can put behind bar anyone for quite some time while is in other cases who could no afford or get the necessary support Internationally it could amount to throwing away the keys .

• The physical conditions of the Indian jails as per information available “According to the official data, Tihar jail has an inmate population of 17,534 while its capacity is 10,026.” This is the place where our resistance leaders are interned . It clearly shows it is having double the no’s . “””

• The National Crime Records Bureau data on Indian prisons last year revealed that Uttar Pradesh had the most overcrowded jails despite having the highest capacity to accommodate prisoners among all states in the country.” And Uttar Pradesh is the state where our prisoners in large no’s have been sent outside kashmir

• Currently, against the total intake capacity of 3,660 in J-K’s fourteen jails, however, 4,362 prisoners and detainees are held. These are details a year back .

• According to the data, 4,131 prisoners — 4,005 men and 126 women — are held in jails across J-K as of 6 December 2020. Of these prisoners, 3,735 are currently undertrial, of which 747 have been arrested in militancy-related cases — merely 1.8 percent of these individuals have been convicted. Overall, a staggering 90.4 percent of the total prisoners are still undergoing trials. These are fit cases of parole which the bar association has demanded .

• Earlier, a provision of the draconian Public Safety Act prohibited the government from transferring a detainee to a jail outside the region, said Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a former law professor at the Central University of Kashmir and noted political commentator.That provision was scrapped in 2018 when the Indian government started ruling Kashmir directly. A prisoner can now be sent to far away jails in India so that his family has little contact.This is an attempt to make Kashmiri prisoners and their plight invisible to the world at large,” said Hussain.

Now what needs to be done

1. Can the Pakistan govt take these cases in all international forums like UN , WHO and get necessary relief

2. Whether Pakistan can go for these specific cases to international court of justice as according to one of our panellist Mr Nazir Gilani sahib in his latest detailed document

3. Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan) concerned Pakistan’s arrest, detention, conviction, and death sentence of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, asserted by India to be an Indian national, who had been convicted of engaging in acts of terrorism and espionage in Pakistan. This is the third dispute over the interpretation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) to come before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In contrast to the Applicants in the previous consular rights cases, India sought relief that included the annulment of Jadhav’s conviction in Pakistan, his release from custody, and his safe transfer to India. After unanimously finding it had jurisdiction, fifteen judges of the ICJ, with only Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, held on the merits that Pakistan had breached VCCR Article 36 by failing to inform Jadhav without delay of his rights under that provision; by failing to notify without delay the appropriate consular post of India in Pakistan of his detention; and by depriving India of its right to communicate with Jadhav, to visit him in detention, and arrange for his legal representation. In addition, the Court, with only Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, found that Pakistan is under an obligation to inform Jadhav of his rights without further delay and is obliged to provide Indian consular officers access to him. The Court further found that appropriate reparation required Pakistan to provide, by means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction and sentence to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of his rights. Finally, the ICJ, again with Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, declared that a continued stay of execution constituted an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction and sentence . As all our political prisoners are citizens of kashmir a disputed area claimed by both countries which interalia means that they are citizens of Pakistan also and I understand that in the Pakistan constitution we Kashmiris have the right of citizenship in Pakistan anytime we desire . Pakistan should muster courage and say these are our citizens both de facto and de jure. The idea of this came to me when I was making the basic document for this webinar based on the experience of the problem of doing LOC trade in dollars which was suggested by the Indian govt when LOC trade started and we opposed it as it would for practically converted the LOC into an international border as trade would have been done in dollars ( a currency for international trade ) We were able to convince the Indian as well as for that matter the Pakistan side by default that as both consider us as citizens of their countries there is no reason to do it in international currency . Our voice prevailed as the agreement came about as people need to understand that the agreement came about after an understanding between the then President Zardari and Manmohan singh in New York where the chambers of both AJK and J&K had to agree to the modalities and we went for barter trade .



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