India continues to victimize IOK political detainees amid COVID-19

At a time when the entire world is making efforts on war-footing to save the lives of people from coronavirus pandemic, India continues to victimize thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners by keeping them in jails on false charges, putting them at the risk of getting affected by the deadly disease.

A report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, revealed that thousands of Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders, political activists, lawyers, civil and social activists, youth, students and journalists had been detained in different jails of India and the occupied territory. It said that those detained included Hurriyat leaders Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarrat Aalam Butt, Aasiya Andrabi, Dr Abdul Hameed Fayaz, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Ayaz Muhammad Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Shahidul Islam, Peer Saifullah, Merajuddin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmeeda Sofi, Muhammad Rafiq Ganai, Maulana Sarjan Barkati, Maulana Mushtaq Ahmed Veeri, Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar, Dr Muhammad Qasim Fakhtoo, Dr Muhammad Shafi Khan, Bashir Ahmed Qureshi, Muhammad Yasin Attai, Noor Muhammad Kalwal, Showkat Ahmed Bakhshi, Abdul Ahad Parra, Muhammad Yousuf Mir, Ferooz Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Yousuf Falahi, Muhammad Shaban, Hayat Ahmad Butt, High Court Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom, human rights activist Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, trade leader Muhammad Yasin Khan, businessman Zahoor Watali, Syed Shahid Yousuf, Syed Shakeel Ahmad Shah and journalists Aasif Sultan and Qazi Shibli.

The report said that hundreds of the Kashmiri detainees were booked under draconian law, Public Safety Act, which allows the authorities to keep a person behind the bars for up to two years.

The report pointed out that the prisoners were being released throughout the world due to COVID-19 threat, but communal Indian rulers were turning a deaf ear to the world calls to set the Kashmiri detainees free. It maintained that the pathetic and unhygienic conditions in Indian jails make the Kashmiri prisoners more susceptible to the virus as most of the prisons lack basic facilities.

The report said that the families of the illegally detained Kashmiris were worried about the safety of their dear ones due to fast spreading coronavirus. It said, the authorities of Indian jails harass, torture and even deny medical care to the Kashmiri political prisoners to punish them for challenging India’s illegal occupation of their motherland and demanding their right to-self-determination.

The report said that it was unfortunate that instead of releasing the already detained thousands of Kashmiris, Indian police and troops were arresting more and more people in occupied Kashmir on daily basis on the charges of violating the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These arrests, it said, are aimed at breaking the Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom. However, it added, New Delhi must accept the reality that its brutalities have failed to subdue the freedom sentiment of the Kashmiri people in the past and will meet the same fate in the future as well.

The report said that the international community and the world human rights bodies must take cognizance of the fact that India was openly violating Geneva Conventions on prisoners’ rights and put pressure on it to release the Kashmiri detainees.

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