Letter to UN rights chief on plight of IIOJK detainees » Kashmir Media Service

Islamabad, May 11 (KMS): Altaf Hussain Wani, Chairman, KIIR, in a letter to Michelle Bachelet , the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has invited his attention to the plight of Kashmiri political detainees languishing in Indian jails.

The text of the letter titled ‘Fast Spreading Coronavirus wave in India and Plight of Kashmiri prisoners ‘goes as under:

Her Excellency,
With due respect and high veneration, I wish to seek your urgent attention towards the subject cited above.

As you know that the pandemic has wreaked havoc all across India where the deadly disease is consuming thousands of lives each day. The crippling health care system, non-availability of necessary drugs, dwindling oxygen supply to hospitals and above all the government’s absolute failure to handle the situation has pushed the Indians towards an unprecedented health crisis. While the entire Indian state is reeling under the catastrophic pandemic, sharp spike in coronavirus deaths in the country has sent shockwaves down the spine of the Kashmiris whose near and dear ones continue to languish in overcrowded jails and detention centres in different parts of India.

Madam Commissioner;
A sizable number of Kashmiri detainees who were arrested by the Indian authorities before and after 5th August 2019 have been detained in Tihar, Haryana, UP, Tamil Nadu, Madya Pardesh, Karnatka jails where there is lack of proper sanitation, hygiene, and medical facilities. Most of the prisoners including top-rank pro-freedom leaders have been lodged in the highly congested Tihar jail that has already been declared as a potential hotbed for the coronavirus disease. The death of a top Kashmiri leader in custody has already sent shockwaves to Indian administered, which government of India itself claimed that Sahari was corona positive.

Madam Commissioner;
Disturbing reports pouring in from the Indian jails is a matter of grave concern as many prisoners including a Kashmiri leader, currently detained in Tihar Jail, are reported to have contracted the deadly virus. Since the third wave of the Novel Coronavirus had hit the country badly, prisoners’ coronavirus case fatality has also risen to an alarming level. More than 250 prisoners are reported to have tested positive so far in Tihar Jail only wherein at least two people die of COVID disease every day.

In the wake of fast-spreading coronavirus in the prison, the family members of these illegally detained Kashmiri prisoners are highly worried about the health and lives of their loved ones who are at a grave danger and heightened risk of the COVID infection.

Unfortunately, the Indian government had blatantly refused to heed the growing calls from international human rights groups regarding the release or shifting of Kashmiri prisoners back to Kashmir valley. Even, the government of India seems reluctant to implement the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court that seeks immediate decongestion of prisons in the wake of the recent surge in Covid19 cases.

Madam Commissioner;
Since the outbreak of the deadly Pandemic, the Indian government has released thousands of prisoners but not a single prisoner hailing from the occupied Jammu and Kashmir was released to date despite the fact that two prisoners including a prominent Kashmiri leader has recently died in the Udhampore jail.

Instead of releasing the prisoners or shifting them back to Kashmir the Indian authorities have shifted over a dozen more Kashmiri prisoners from valley to the prisons in other Indian states last week. This reckless step, which is tantamount to endangering the prisoners’ lives, was taken at a time when prisons all across India have been declared as potential hotbeds for the coronavirus disease. This deliberate attempt on the part of Indian authorities to let Kashmiri prisoners rot in the highly congested prisons and making them vulnerable to the deadly virus is a heinous crime that should not go unnoticed at the international level.

Madam Commissioner,
We owe a debt of gratitude to OHCHR and in particular to your highness for raising the plight of Kashmiri prisoners time and again. However, given the urgency of the matter it is humbly requested to pursue the matter to ensure that;
a) The Indian government takes urgent steps to make sure that prisoners and detainees have access to adequate medical care and protective measures against covid19.
b) The Indian Government releases all illegally detained Kashmiri prisoners especially those who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 infections.
c) The Indian government stops using COVID-19 as a tool to punish and persecute Kashmiris.

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