Srinagar: J&K High Court Bar Association has decided to seek intervention of High Court to end plight of hundreds of detainees held in various jails across Jammu and Kashmir.
A six-member team of Bar Association, Srinagar visited Central Jail Kotbalwal Jammu, District Jail Kathua and District Jail Udhampur on 22nd/23rd of March, 2017 and after interacting with the detainees and undertrial prisoners of Kashmir province and other places, lodged in those jails, released a report on Saturday.,
The bar team comprised of Aijaz Bedar, Anwar-ul-Islam Shaheen, Hamid Shafi, Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Nasir Qadri, and Mudasir Yousuf.
Central Jail Kotbalwal Jammu: It was found by the Bar team that amongst others, there are 66 Kashmiri detenues and 07 foreigners, lodged in Central Jail Kotebalwal Jammu, under Public Safety Act.
It was stated by Zubair Mughal, a Pakistani, to the team members that he was arrested two years back by police at Sopore and since then he has been lodged in Kotebalwal Jail, Jammu under PSA. He stated that he has neither been produced before any Court nor any challan is pending against him anywhere, but still he has been incarcerated under PSA and his order of detention is being extended from time to time, without any justification or reason.
Shahzad Ahmad, another Pakistani who has been convicted by a court at Rajouri, has virtually turned mad, as stated by his jail inmates and according to them, the jail authorities are not providing him any kind of medical assistance, which has deteriorated his position further.
Akthar-ul-Islam another Pakistani, told the Bar team that he was acquitted in a criminal case by a court of competent jurisdiction, but was neither released nor deported back to his country. Instead an acquittal appeal was filed by the State, which is pending in the High Court and for the last two years, has not been heard or disposed of, one way or the other, due to which, he is suffering badly.
Naveed Ahmad, a Pakistani, who was arrested at Udhampur, told the Bar team, that he has been provided a lawyer by the State Legal Service Authority, but the said lawyer has never met him and he doesnot know as to what is the stage of his case, which is pending in a Court at Udhampur.
Mohammad Sadiq Chichi, the other Pakistani, who is also languishing in the jail, told the Bar team that a criminal case is pending trial against him in the Court of Additional Sessions Judge Sopore, but for the last nine months he has not been produced in the Court to face the trail. He said that he should have been lodged at Central Jail Srinagar, but he has been dumped in Kotebalwal Jail Jammu, only to see that he doesnot get rid-off the case pending against him.
Asif Ahmad, another Pakistani, stated that there is no case pending against him, in any court, yet he has been detained under PSA repeatedly for the last two years and no attempt has been made by the Jail authorities to deport him back to his country, though the High Court had also directed the State authorities to do so.
The Kashmiri detenues lodged in Kotebalwal Jail Jammu told the bar team that though they have challenged their orders of detention in the High Court at Srinagar, but their cases are not being decided one way or the other, as such, they are suffering badly. They also stated that most of them are ill, but the jail authorities are not providing them any medical assistance. They also stated that the overhead water tanks have been kept open on the rooftops, without being cleaned and one doesnot know as to what is inside those water tanks, which are lying in open. They said that the jail authorities have installed CCTV cameras inside their wards including the latrin and the bathrooms, as a result of which, their privacy is getting exposed every day.
Sharif-ud-din, a Lecturer from Sopore, informed the Bar team that even though he has been detained on unfounded and baseless grounds, yet after his detention under PSA, he has been placed under suspension, without being paid any subsistence allowance, which has caused irreparable loss and injury to him and his family.
Abdul Majid Malla of Palhallan Pattan, stated that he is in the jail for the last six months. He stated that his mother had come to see him some time back and when she saw his condition, she got shocked and on her return to the home, she died of the said shock. He said that he had challenged his order of detention in the High Court, but till date the case has not been decided by the Court with the result, he has not been even able to participate in the last rites of his mother.
District Jail Kathua: In District Jail Kathua there are 20 prisoners of Kashmir, who have been detained under PSA and lodged in the said Jail.
Salman Yousuf of Bandipora told the Bar team that the District Jail Kathua has been converted into Guantanamo-bay as there are no facilities available to the Kashmiri detenues in the said jail. He told the Bar team that most of the detenues are ailing, but no medical treatment is being provided to them by the jail authorities. He and other detenues also complained that they have challenged their orders of detention in the high Court at Srinagar but their cases have not been decided by the Court so far, which has caused serious prejudice to them.
Shakeel Ahmad Bhat, a detenue from Pulwama, told the Bar team that he too has challenged his order of detention before the High Court at Srinagar, but he doesnot understand as to why his case is not being decided by the Court. He told the Bar team that if the High Court is not inclined to decide the cases of the detenues on fast-track basis, it is better that no detenue should file Habeas Corpus petition before the High Court, because either after the quashing of their order of detention, after considerable period of time or on account of the expiry of their period of detention, they in both the events, are not released, until the screening committees approve their release and most of the time, on account of pendency of their cases, in the High Court, the screening committees defer the consideration of their cases.
It was also stated to the Bar team that the water provided to the inmates of the jail is unclean and impure. In the said jail also, there are overhead water tanks on the rooftops, which are not cleaned. There is no doctor in the jail and when any inmate is taken ill, he is given a Paracetamol tablet by the jail authorities, without taking him to the hospital or calling a doctor from the District Hospital Kathua. It is in extreme cases and that too with great difficulty that a doctor is called to the jail but once in a week.
District Jail Udhampur: In District Jail Udhampur there are 09 prisoners of Kashmir, who have been detained under PSA and lodged in the said Jail.
Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Kulangam Handwara who is lodged in the said jail under PSA, is about 63 years of age. He has suffered a stroke and is paralyzed. He is unable to move, without a support. He is not however, provided any support by the jail authorities, to enable him to move in the ward where he has been kept. When the jail authorities were told about the same, they said that it is not permissible under law to provide him any support. The said detenue, is not only trembling, but has also several burn injuries on his right foot, which may prove fatal to him.
Mohammad Yousuf Ganai of Turas, Nathnoosa Kupwara stated that he was a Govt. Teacher and he has been terminated from his service, on account of having been detained under PSA. He stated that he is 35 years of age and because of his termination, his family comprising of 15 members, are without any sustenance. He said that he is the father of four children and besides them, he has a spouse and that there is no one to take care of them at his home.
Ubaid Tariq Mantoo who is of 27 years of age, stated that he has been detained under PSA for the last one year and that he is experiencing too much weakness on his left side, as his shoulder is jammed. He said that he has also not been provided any medical treatment by the jail authorities.
Imran Khan another detenue of Trehgam Kupwara, stated that he his income was the only source of sustenance of his entire family comprising of his five sisters and father, who is not able to move, because one of his Kidneys have been removed and he needs special care and attention, which in his absence he is unable to get from anyone.
Muntazir Ahmad Dar of Kundlan Shopian stated that he has been operated twice in his Head and Abdomen and his heart rate has increased from 115 to 125, which is above the normal heart rate and he needs proper care and treatment. He said that he should have been provided special medical/diagnostic checkup in some super-specialty hospital, but no attention is being paid to him by the jail authorities. He said that he is also under the treatment of Psychiatric Hospital Srinagar and is required to take regular drugs prescribed by the doctors of the said hospital, but he is not regularly given those drugs by the jail authorities, which is bound to affect his health adversely.
The other three detenues, namely Tariq Ahmad Malik of Kangan, Aijaz Ahmad Darzi of Handwara and Abdul Qayoom Ganai of Nadihal Handwara, also stated that they have been falsely booked and detained under PSA and as there is no one at their home to come to see them in the jail, they are therefore, worried about their family members. They said that even if they had to be detained, they could have been lodged in Central Jail Srinagar or District Jail Kupwara, but the police authorities have got them lodged in Udhampur jail, only to see that no one is able to meet them and that out of sheer frustration, they and their family members would give up before the police.
The report of the Bar team was considered by the Executive Committee of the Bar Association in its meeting held on 22.03.2017 and 25.03.2017 and it was decided that the problems and the difficulties faced by the detenues and undertrial prisoners of Kashmir province, lodged in Central Jail Kotebalwal Jammu, District Jail Kathua and District Jail Udhampur, would be brought to the notice of the High Court by way of an appropriate motion and besides seeking orders for the redressal of the grievances of the prisoners.
It was also decided to approach the Chief Justice for listing the Habeas Corpus Petitions of these and other detenues lodged in different jails all over the State, before Special Benches of the High Court, so that these petitions are decided on top priority, which is otherwise also the requirement of the Case Flow Management Rules framed by the High Court in 2010, which envisage that all Habeas Corpus Petitions should be decided within 48 hours and in all circumstances these case should be decided within 15 days from the date of their institution.
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