Srinagar: “Prisoners of J&K lodged in different jails in India are not treated fairly and justice is not being meted out to them. Though the right to fair and speedy trial is a fundamental right, in case of the Kashmiri prisoners, this right has been denied to them with impunity.”
This was stated Friday by J&K High Court Bar Association after its three-member team returned to the Valley after visiting Central Jail Jaipur, Rajasthan.
According to a HCBA statement, pursuant to orders of the High Court, the three-member team comprising president Mian Abdul Qayoom, general secretary Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, and executive member Arshad Andrabi visited Central Jail Jaipur, Rajasthan on April 14 to find out as to how many prisoners belonging to J&K state are lodged there and what kind of legal aid and assistance is required by them.
On their arrival in the jail, the jail authorities told the team that there are five prisoners belonging to J&K who are lodged there. The detainees are:
Farooq Ahmad Khan (Anantnag); Abdul Gani Gooni (Doda); Lateef Ahmad Waza (Srinagar); Ali Mohammad Bhat (Srinagar); and Mirza Nisar Hussain (Srinagar).
The statement said: “The lawyers’ team was allowed to meet the prisoners by the jail authorities in their presence. After interacting with these prisoners it was found that all of them had been arrested in 1996 at different places inside the state but were later brought to Jaipur and booked in FIR No. 148/96 u/s 302/307 IPCand 4/5 Explosive Act of Police Station Mohwa, Rajasthan, registered on 22.05.1996 in connection with bomb blast which occurred in a bus at Samlate, which was on its way from Agra to Jaipur.
“It was also found that after keeping them in Jaipur for about one year, Farooq Khan and Abdul Gani, who was earlier arrested in Gujarat, were taken to Delhi and booked in Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case. Latief Ahmad was also taken to Gujarat, but Mirza Nissar Hussain and Mohammad Ali were retained at Jaipur. In 1997 Farooq Khan and one more person namely Javaid Ahmad Khan who had also been arrested in Gujarat and booked in Lajpat Nagar case, were brought to Jaipur and booked in FIR No. 39/96 pertaining Jaipur Stadium blast case.
“After keeping the prisoners in Jaipur for about two months, they, except Javaid Khan, were again taken back to Delhi for facing trial in Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case. In June, 1999, they were again brought to Jaipur to face trial in Samlete bus blast case and when they were produced before the District Court Mohwa and the Judge heard arguments in their cases and disclosed his mind of discharging them, they were again taken back to Delhi to face trial in Lajpat Nagar Bomb Blast case.
“In District Court Mahwa, the police had filed four separate challans against the accused persons allegedly involved in Samlete bus blast case. One challan was filed against Mirza Nissar Hussain and Mohammad Ali. Second challan was filed against Farooq Ahmad Khan, Latief Ahmad Waza, Javaid Ahmad Khan and Abdul Gani Gooni. Third challan was filed against Riyaz Ahmad, a police constable, who died in AIMS, Delhi on 27.09.1997, and fourth challan was filed against Chander Prakash, Abdul Hamid, Rias Beg and Saleem alias Pappu who were, however, all discharged from the case by the Rajasthan High Court. Saleemalias Pappu is, however, still languishing in jail and is presently lodged in Bharatpur jail.
“In April, 2010, the case relating to Lajpat Nagar Bomb Blast was decided by a Delhi Court. Immediately thereafter Farooq Khan, Abdul Gani and Lateef Waza were shifted to Jaipur to face trial in District Court Mahwa in Samlete blast case, where they came to know that during their lodgement in Tihar Jail from 1999 to April 2010, the prosecution had examined 80 out of 142 witnesses in Chander Prakash’s case and that in the light of the evidence of these 80 witnesses, Prakash and others had been discharged by Rajasthan High Court. It was, however, in the March 2012 that charge was framed against all these Kashmiri prisoners u/s 120-B IPC only by the court, which of course is unknown to law.
“After the framing of charge all the aforesaid five Kashmiri prisoners filed an application before the court stating therein that the evidence given by 80 prosecution witnesses in Chander Prakash’s case be read against them as well, because all the four challans had been ordered to be consolidated by the Supreme Court in 2000. It took, however, two years to the court to decide that application and ultimately direct that the evidence given by those 80 witnesses will be also read against the Kashmiri prisoners. From 3/2012 till 3/2014, the court has, however, recorded evidence of 08 more witnesses only out of the remaining 62 witnesses.
“The case in the beginning had been assigned to a fast track court, but subsequently it was transferred to a camp court, which holds its sittings thrice a month. The aforesaid Kashmiri prisoners had also filed a transfer application before the Rajasthan High Court for assigning the case to a regular court but the application was rejected by the High Court and it was left to the trial court to deal with the request, which request has, however, been refused by the trial court.
“In 2011, Abdul Gani filed a bail application before the Rajasthan High Court but that application was rejected by the court. In 2013 he filed another bail application before the High Court which came to be disposed of with a direction to the trial court to record the evidence of further nine witnesses only, who were allegedly shown to be eye witnesses of the case and thereafter consider the bail application of the accused. The court has so far recorded evidence of 08 witnesses only and the evidence of investigating officer, who has retired as Inspector General of police of Rajasthan has not been so far recorded. Mirza Nissar Hussain and Mohammad Ali have also filed bail applications before the High Court, but no orders have been passed in the said applications till date.
“On 14/04/2010, when the five Kashmiri prisoners were brought from Delhi to Central Jail Jaipur, they were attacked by about 20 prisoners of the Jail alongwith Home Guards posted there and ruthlessly beaten. In the said attack, Latief Ahmad Waza received an injury on his head. A case was no doubt registered against those, who had attacked and injured Latief Ahmad Waza and others and even their blood soaked clothes were seized but subsequently they were forced to take the case back.
“On 17.04.2013, the five Kashmiri prisoners were again attacked and ruthlessly beaten by the Hindu inmates of the jail as a result of which Mirza Nissar Hussain and Abdul Gani received severe injuries on their bodies. The Bar team was told by these prisoners that though Asiya Andrabi and Zamrooda Habib had condemned the incident, no other organisation, including the Bar Association had said a word about the same, which shows that people are least bothered about them and have left them at the mercy of Almighty Allah, which of course is highly regrettable.
“From the aforesaid facts and circumstances it is clear that the prisoners of the J&K state lodged in different jails in India are not treated fairly and justice is not being meted out to them, in accordance with law. Though the right to fair and speedy trial is a fundamental right and is available to all the accused irrespective of his/their involvement in a case, yet in the case of the Kashmiri prisoners, this right has been denied to them with impunity.
“The manner and method in which they are shifted and moved from one jail to another jail and then booked in false and fabricated cases, the trial of which is protracted for years together, is in itself sufficient to conclude that there is no rule of law for a Kashmiri prisoner who may be lodged in any jail in India and that he can be treated in any manner by the jail and other authorities as they like. The five Kashmiri prisoners lodged in Central Jail Jaipur have also fallen prey to these brutal and barbaric tactics of the police and despite their best efforts to persuade the courts to remedy the wrongs the courts have not come to their rescue.
“Though the five Kashmiri prisoners have not complained much about food and other amenities to which they are entitled to under jail manual, the Bar team could gather from the discussion held with them that they are given barely two cups of tea in the morning and evening and a few chapattis at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, with a small quantity of Dal. They are not allowed any non-vegetarian food inside or outside the jail and for years together, they have not even been provided with an egg.
“The Bar Association has, accordingly, decided to take up the matter before J&K High Court and Rajasthan High Court and if necessary before the Supreme Court as well.”