Saturday, November 4, 2006

Govt lied on release of 11 detainees

Chief Secretary says ‘I thought they were released’
Naseer A Ganai  
Srinagar, Nov 4: Jammu and Kashmir government has not released 11 detainees who it announced would be freed last month.
The cases of the 11 detainees were screened by the government’s screening committee and later it was announced they would be set free on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr.
But 10 days after the holy festival, the detainees are yet to be released, sources in the Home Department told Greater Kashmir on Saturday.
“The file has been sent to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for his approval but so far there has been no response,” they added. 
Some of the detainees are: Muhammad Altaf Mir of Shopian, Farooq Ahmad Banday of Beerwah, Manzoor Ahmad Ganai of Bandipora, Gulzar Ahmad of Islamabad, Irfan Ahmad Mir of Varmul, Abdul Majeed of Budgam, Muhammad Maqbool Wagay of Kulgam, Basheer Ahmad Bhat of Chadura and Bashir Ahmad Hajam of Kulgam.   
Chief Secretary C Phunsog expressed surprise when told that the detainees have not been released. “I thought they were released. You can check it with the DGP (Director General of Police),” he said. The DGP was not available for comment.
However a senior police official said holidays and Darbar Move caused delay in the release of the 11 prisoners. “Once the Civil Secretariat opens in Jammu and the Chief Minister will have a look at the file, they will be released,” he said. 
Mian Abdul Qayoom, senior counsel and president of Kashmir High Court Bar Association said the screening committees, which are in the district and the state level, were formed by the government to “pass judgments on recommendation of advisory committees set up under the Public Safety Act or High Court judgments which set aside PSA detentions.”
He said the screening committees were responsible for the re-detention of detainees. “Whenever PSA of a detainee is quashed by the High Court, the detainees are not released because screening committees don’t want their release,” he said.   
Mir Shafqat Hussain, a lawyer who has pleaded cases of some of the detainees on the list said the High Court has already quashed detention of some of the detainees. “Now the screening committee has ordered their release, it’s strange why government has not released them,” he said.   
Meanwhile, local news agency CNS quoted relatives of the 11 detainees saying that “We met senior official in the Secretariat but they said approval of release of their wards has not been given so far.”
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