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Jailed Kashmiri leaders’ families seek their release in the wake of pandemic

Shabir Shah. File Photo.  

Family members of jailed separatist leaders on Thursday asked the Centre to shift them to Srinagar or release them at the earliest, in the wake of death of jailed Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Ashraf Sehrai and the fast-spreading pandemic.

Sehar Shabir Shah, daughter of Democratic Freedom Movement chairman Shabir Shah, said the news of Mr. Sehrai’s death has come as “shocking and disturbing”.

“I have been posting videos requesting everyone, including the Prime Minister and the President, on prisoners’ conditions. I again request them to shift them [political leaders] or release them before things get even worse, for the sake of humanity,” Ms. Sehar said.

Separatist leader Shah was arrested in 2017 and lodged in the Tihar Jail in Delhi. “Tihar is a very congested jail. There are more than five reported deaths and more than 2,000 inmates have tested positive. Social distancing and isolation are a major problem. My father and other prisoners should be shifted to Srinagar,” she said.

In a letter addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the daughters of arrested Hurriyat leader Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam, also spokesman of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have also made an appeal to the Centre to release their father.

“Our father has tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 and his condition has deteriorated due to co-morbidities, including acute diabetes. We have no contact with him. We don’t even know if he is alive. Mr. Sehrai’s death has left us even more worried about the well-being of our beloved father. Our father has always worked for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. We request his release,” Shahid-Suzain Shah (18) and Sundas Shah (14) said, in the letter.

The family of Dukhataran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi also demanded she should be shifted to Srinagar.

Mr. Sehrai’s body was buried pre-dawn at his ancestral village in Lolab area of Kupwara in north Kashmir on Thursday, attended by limited family members.

“The burial was completed as per COVID-19 protocol in the presence of family members at his native place,” IGP Vijay Kumar said.

National Conference (NC) president and MP Farooq Abdullah has expressed profound grief over the death of Mr. Sehrai.

“His death brings home the point that the government must ensure the well being of Kashmiri prisoners lodged across jails in the country. The government should consider releasing ailing political prisoners, even though the Supreme Court had already issued guidelines for decongesting jails in view of the pandemic,” Dr. Abdullah said.

Commenting on Mr. Sehrai’s death, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said countless political prisoners and other detainees from J&K continue to be jailed purely for their ideologies and thought process. “In today’s India, one pays a price with his life for dissent. The least the government of India can do in such dangerous circumstances is to immediately release them on parole so that they return home to their families,” she said.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 1:03:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jailed-kashmiri-leaders-families-seek-their-release-in-the-wake-of-pandemic/article34500450.ece

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