Srinagar: Kashmiri prisoners lodged in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail fearing the Coronavirus outbreak have sought ‘conditional release’ given the poor sanitation and unhygienic living conditions inside the jail.
In a joint letter written to the Chief Justice, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on March 23, the inmates have sought ‘conditional and temporary’ release while expressing apprehension that the pandemic may break out in the jail having ‘all conducive and favourable environment’ for the disease. The inmates point out that the jail lacks emergency equipment and medical facilities required even in the normal conditions.
“The medical staff available in the jail is not even competent to control the common flu if it becomes viral. How can such an incompetent and insufficient staff be able to prove any help in such a crucial situation which may be created if God forbid , the viral disease Covid-19 breaks out in any jail,” the inmates write in the letter.
The letter further says that the inmates are in panic as fever, flu, cold, headache and respiratory disorders are common in the jail due to climate change.
“There is no apparent mechanism available to distinguish between these common ailments and the Covid-19,” the letter reads.
The inmates also complain of unhygienic conditions and lack of sanitation terming it ‘ill-devised and ill-equipped, too insufficient’ to combat the outbreak of the viral disease in the jail.
“The supply and distribution system of the food items outside and inside the jail is also hazardous without any required basic preventive measures being adopted for the safety of the inmates. Under these circumstances, the inmates feel unsafe which adds to their mental agonies,” the letter reads.
“The majority of inmates have deficient immunity system developed after their entry in the jail due to improper and unbalanced diet. Lack of balanced diet is already one of the root causes of various diseases,” it adds.
The inmates also questioned the idea of social distancing saying such a practice can’t be exercised at an overcrowded jail.
“To adopt the basic preventive measures in the conditions prevailing in the jails is quite impossible. How can the inmates maintain social distancing when the barracks are overcrowded?” the inmates ask.
Making a compassionate appeal to the CJ of High Court, the inmates say that their lives have turned into a virtual hell after the outbreak of the most dreadful Covid19 depriving them of their mental peace, balance and stability.
“Hope for the safeguard of the lives of inmates, they will be granted temporary paroles and thereby allowed to live in company of their near and dear ones during this turmoil. And bails be granted to those who are entitled to under such circumstances,” the letter reads.
“Further, general amnesty be given to those convicts who have passed a great period of their lives in custody. Special and unprecedented orders are expected to be issued by your honour at this unprecedented period of time when unbridled virus has overpowered,” adds the letter, copies of which have also been sent to Principal Secretary, Home Department and Director General of Police (Prisons).
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