Kashmiri inmates in Tihar kept with criminals, demand separate lodging
While waiting for the court’s judgement for around four months, Kashmiris booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and alleged money laundering offences by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) wrote to Director General of Prisms, Delhi requesting him to “lodge them together, separate from others…” at Tihar jail, Delhi as they have been placed with criminals in ‘High risk’ ward in.
The Kashmiri political prisoners have been imprisoned in the high-risk ward of Tihar jail where the most dangerous criminals are kept.
“The High-Risk criminals are checked many times in a day as they get cigarettes and mobiles from somewhere. They do drugs and use abusive language. Since the Kashmiris are with them, they also have to go through the checking. So, they wrote a letter to DG Prisons. The letter has not been acknowledged yet. Although we have posted it,” says Ruwa Shah, daughter of one of the Kashmiri inmates in Tihar, Altaf Shah.
Shabir Ahmad Shah, Muzaffar Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad Dar on behalf of around 25-30 other Kashmiris had written a letter to Director General of Prisms, Delhi on April 30, 2018 requesting him “to lodge them together, separate from other inmates with varying behaviours and different cultural backgrounds, especially when they are mostly booked on political reasons prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir.
They have made the request highlighting their ‘rule-abiding nature and age and health issues’.
The case has been delayed, and transferred several times. Ruwa believes that the delay in hearings and transfer of case from one judge to another are tactics used to delay the judgement.
“In court, it’s in their own hand. It has to be dealt with at a PMO (Prime Minsiter’s Office) level. We are not really expecting anything from the court. Additional Sessions Judge Justice Tarun Sehrawat would keep a gap of one week in the hearing whereas, the new judge District and Sessions Judge (DSJ) Poonam A Bamba already deferred it to 2 months,” says Ruwa adding that various reasons like ‘vacations’ in court are given to them for the delay, which she and Shabir Shah’s wife Dr Bilques are not convinced of.
Healthwise, the Kashmiris are not keeping well. Briefing about the inmates, she says, “Abu’s (Altaf Shah) sugar level was 550 and he does not get the food he needs in this holy month of Ramzan. Shabir Shah is also not well. He has heart issues. Even if they show them to the doctor, they don’t follow up after that. Watalli Sahab is the sickest of all. I felt bad seeing him. Saifullah Sahab is also not keeping well.”
“It’s an illegal detention. The charge sheet is so long that it might take 12 years to hear them all. Will they keep them in the jail for 12 years? And after nothing is proved, they will let them go?” asks Ruwa.