‘Kashmiri Detainees Tortured By Dreaded Gangsters In Jails’
NASEER A GANAI
Srinagar, Feb 21: The High Court Bar Association Saturday said the chief minister Omar Abdullah was powerless as he had no authority to release the detainees booked under the Public Safety Act.
Qayoom ridiculed the government announcements on release of 21 detainees and said the High Court has already quashed their detention. He said the government was making announcement about the release of detainees when the Courts have already passed decisions about them.
Flanked by secretary Bar advocate G N Shaheen and other lawyers, the Bar president released the report about the condition of various jails and lashed out the jail authorities for subjecting Kashmiri detainees to inhumane condition.
The Bar president said, “The treatment meted out to detainees in Tihar and Rohni jails is inhumane. The detainees are looked down upon by the jail authorities, police and everyone,” the Bar president said, adding that some of detainees had tried for transfer of their cases from Delhi to any other place but the Apex Court has rejected their application.
He said the prisoners convicted and sentenced to life had applied for their transfer to Jammu and Kashmir jails in accordance with the Transfer of Prisoners Act but no action has been taken by the authorities.
Qayoom said 60 prisoners lodged in Tihar jail could have been easily kept in one barrack of any jail in Tihar but the jail authorities have put “them with dreaded criminals, gangsters who torture them every day and night.”
He said they are being denied the medical aid and in case they complain they are being penalized days together. He said Kashmiri detainees were being subjected to harassment after Mumbai attack and they are being told to be ashamed of it.
He said there were 70 Pakistani in the Tihar jail. “They have no contact with their families and no one is pursuing their cases,” the report said, adding that a lawyer from Delhi had gone to meet a Pakistani in Agra jail but he was denied the interview and asked to get the permission from CID Kashmir.
The report said undertrials in Kathua jail are being “thrashed by the jail staff on the instructions of the jail superintendent.” “Whenever any detainee or under trial is brought from Kashmir for lodgment in the jail, he is given severe beating by the jail staff,” the report said.
The report said jail staff has forcibly cut beard of the detainees Peer Aizan Ahmad, Imran of Jamia Masjid Varmul, Zia-ul-Islam and Javed Ahmad who were detained for launching election boycott campaign in valley in Kathua jail. The report said that in Kathua jail, Kashmiri detainees were forced to participate in January 26 celebrations inside the jail premises.
The report had good words for the Kothbalwal jail. It says, “All those detainees interviewed by the Bar team were of opinion that there is lot of improvement in this jail as compared to past.”
The report said the all the detainees, undertrials have been given better treatment by the jail authorities in the Kothbalwal as compared to other jails.
However, the report was very critical of the state government and police authorities for not providing the police escort to detainee to bring them to Courts during hearings. The report said the detainees were not being presented to Courts. The report said that in case of illness, the jail detainees were not being allowed to visit any other doctor unless recommended by the jail doctor. The report said that two detainees have died in this manner. 500 detainees are booked under PSA are lodged in Srinagar centre jail.
‘BHIM SINGH’S PETITION ANTI-KASHMIRI’
Qayoom accused Panthers Party president Bhim Singh of working against the interests of Kashmiris in general and detainees lodged in jails in the state and outside the state in particular.
The Bar said Singh filed public interest litigation in the Apex Court saying that foreign detainees lodged outside the State should be tried in the areas of their lodgments. Scores of detainees are lodged in various jails outside the State for alleged offences committed in Jammu and Kashmir. Under the Public Safety Act foreigner could be lodged in any jail outside the State.
Qayoom said the Apex Court acted on the PIL filed by Singh and decided that the cases foreigners should tried in the courts located in areas of their lodgments. He said the decision has affected thousands of detainees who are co-accused in such cases and they have all the way travel outside the State to appear in these cases.
The Bar president said the advocate general of the state should have given the State’s view and should have informed the Court about the issue. He said the government’s silence over the issue speaks volumes about its non-seriousness of the State. He said Singh had no locus standi to file a petition in the Apex Court without consulting detainees or those who would be directly affected by it. Qayuum accused Singh of drawing political mileage out of it.
The Bar president said the right course would have been to bring all foreign detainees lodged in outside the State jails to Jammu and Kashmir. “In the state trial could have been speedy. It is in the State there are co-accused and witnesses,” the Bar president said.