Punished for his defiance

Obstruction of urine is treated as a medical emergency everywhere in the world but Shah’s inflated bladder which contains 248CC urine has been ignored by the jail authorities

The promises of zero tolerance on human rights notwithstanding, detainees continue to suffer for want of medi-care. Even detainees with serious ailments are denied hospitalization in total violation of the Jail Manual and the court orders issued in this regard.

Shabir Ahmad Shah has spent more than 25-years in jail. Never has detention affected his health so adversely. But this time his condition is nothing less than critical. According to medical experts in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Shabir Shah is suffering from Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Atypical chest pain, Cervical and Lumber Spondylitus, Left Renal calculus, Right Renal cyst and Benign Hypertrophy of Prostate. Shabir has been taking various drugs for these ailments but, according to his wife, the drugs have not been made available to him in Kathua jail where he is serving yet another term under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).


Excessive enlargement of his prostate, which according to a recent test weighs 58gms, has obstructed his urine flow. Median lobe is enlarged with significant residual urine 248cc ‘Urinary bladder well distended 410cc and bladder wall Thickened Cystitis is there.


With these complications Shah was brought to government medical college Jammu last week on the advice of a doctor in Kathua. However, the doctors in GMC refused to admit him and asked him to undergo tests which had already been performed.


Obstruction of urine is treated as a medical emergency everywhere in the world. But no treatment was given to Shah. The urine in his bladder not only causes inconvenience to him but is likely to cause serious infection which may prove fatal.


 The civil society of Kashmir has issued a statement today and urged the authorities to take immediate measures for ensuring hospitalization of the incarcerated leader. The denial of medicare to Shah is a serious violation of the jail manual which has clearly laid down measures to be undertaken in times of emergency.




The statement reads: “People of Jammu & Kashmir have witnessed arbitrary and capricious use of detention laws to silence oppositional and dissident voices. In this use of Public Safety Act (PSA) and then ensuring sub-standard conditions as a form of punishment for their defiance has caused untold misery. But this threatens to turn vicious with the deliberate denial of emergency medical treatment for Shabir Ahmad Shah.”


On page 279 Para 33.71 the jail manual says: “Urgent cases requiring immediate surgical or other treatment which cannot be adequately given in a prison hospital should be transferred to an outside civil hospital and a report made to the Inspector general.”


The subsequent Para elaborates. “When a serious case is received and medical officer is of the opinion that removal of the prisoner to another prison or a specialized institution is absolutely necessary to save his life or for the benefit of his health shall submit a brief statement of the case to the superintendent and mention the prison to which he considers the transfer desirable. The superintendent shall submit the recommendation to the inspector general for his order.”


In yet another Para on page 280, the manual says: “Any medicine prescribed by the medical officer of an outside hospital which is absolutely necessary for the treatment of the sick prisoner and is not available in the said hospital shall be provided by the prison authorities without delay.”


In all the paragraphs quoted above, the jail manual casts an obligation on the authorities to transfer a seriously ailing prisoner to hospital. Shabir Shah, by all standards is critically ill. What are the authorities, therefore, waiting for?


Besides violating the jail manual, the authorities are liable of another serious lapse. The state is under a legal, moral and constitutional obligation to look after a person whom it holds under preventive detention. In such cases, the prisoner has committed no offence and is kept behind bars to prevent him from committing an offence prejudicial to the security of the state. The state has to provide food, clothing and medicare to him. And, if the state does not fulfil these obligations, it has no right to curtail the liberty of a person in the garb of security of state.


The people of Kashmir firmly believe that detentions under PSA are totally unwarranted and unjustified. This draconian law has been used as a tool to silence dissent. Shabir Shah has been detained for encouraging stone pelters and instigating stone pelting. But, the statements of the Chief Minister and the Law Minister on the floor of legislative assembly not only exonerate Shabir Shah of the `crimes’  he is supposed to have committed but also reflects lack of co-ordination between various agencies of the state government. The chief minister and the law minister said that the forces behind stone pelters had been identified and shall be exposed soon. Though the duo did not name anybody but people grasped what they wanted to put forth. However, a few days later Shabir Shah is taken into custody for an act which the Chief Minister, who also happens to be the home minister, believes had been committed by people sitting in the opposition benches in the legislative assembly.   


Shabir Shah is in bad shape although the authorities have miserably failed to dampen his spirits. His health has worsened. The manner in which all authorities are engaged in delay and denial of medical treatment suggests that mindful of his falling health they want to aggravate this to eventually silence him, physically and politically.


 Nothing has changed in the state since 1981. Malik Muhammad Yasin was arrested and denied medicare till he developed serious heart complications. When the authorities finally realized that Yasin’s heart had been damaged almost beyond repair, he was thrown out of the police station. Three decades later, Shah faces a similar situation. He is not passing urine. He is critical but the authorities are waiting. He may be thrown out of the prison, like Yasin Malik when he reaches a stage where his release will not pose any threat to security of the state.


Shockingly the state intends to resist his transfer to Srinagar jail. According to informed sources, the state has plans to file an LPA to ensure Shah’s lodgment in Kathua jail. However, the authorities need to take note of the fact that the doctors at Jammu have not treated Shah. His transfer to Srinagar jail, therefore, becomes all the more necessary.

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