Persecution of prisoners

The persecution of Kashmiris prisoners continues unabated. In fact it has become a trend now. It is a perennial problem with official patronage. Recently, three Kashmiris again became victim of this policy in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Reportedly, the Jail authorities have given a free hand to criminal elements in the jail to harass and intimidate Kashmiri prisoners. Every time, there is an attack on Kashmiri prisoners, it elicits widespread condemnation from many quarters in Kashmir. But, so far the attacks have continued unabated. The condition of Kashmiri prisoners detained in various Indian prisons already continues to be pathetic. The jail authorities harass the prisoners themselves and at times `entrust’ the job to criminals to perpetuate the policy. The results are obvious. Not only the prisoners but their families in Kashmir live in perpetual distress. They have to bear mental trauma and heavy financial burden in order to meet their loved ones held in distant jails. Seen from legal perspective, there are many judicial precedents which necessitate holding even convicted criminals in facilities closest to their domicile. Besides apex court, many rulings by sub-ordinate courts have said that prisoners should be held in jails nearest to their homes. This is not only the right of prisoners but also that of their families. But unfortunately, all these rulings are being flouted in case of Kashmiri prisoners. Scores of Kashmiri prisoners are languishing in various Indian prisons from many years, bringing perpetual pain and misery to their families. Again, there are many rulings which call for adjudication of cases on fast track basis. Right to speedy trial is a fundamental human right. But the case proceedings of Kashmiri prisoners are prolonged, seemingly, under a political policy. The unfortunate part of the whole affair is that while the families, human rights bodies and Kashmir’s pro-freedom groups have time and again voiced concern over the harassment and intimidation of Kashmiri prisoners held in Indian jails and demanded their release or shifting to jails in home state, Kashmir government’s stand on the issue has remained like that of a mute spectator. The successive regimes in the state have chosen to stay aloof from the miseries of Kashmiri prisoners and their families. It is time that pro-India parties take a stand on Kashmiri prisoners held in different Indian jails. Instead of befooling people by making promises about the resolution of Kashmir issue, which is beyond their brief, it would be honest and pragmatic on their part if Kashmir’s pro-India parties include the issue of Kashmiri prisoners in their election manifestos. It will be an achievable target.