Prisoners’ Plight

Prisoners’ Plight

Thousands of Kashmiri prisoners languish in jails across many parts of India. But the prison conditions and the plight of these political prisoners thereof remain far from perfect. One major issue that Kashmiri prisoners face is distance from their home(s) and the attendant difficulties for their near and dear ones in terms of paying visits to them. It is not easy for a poor, struggling family to actually visit their wards, kith and kin in prisons that are away from Kashmir. Among the difficulties faced are financial and logistical ones. A visit, for instance, to a prison in Rajasthan or even Jammu would entail an expense ranging to and in thousands of rupees. Often times, families are unable to afford these expenses. Then there is the issue of cultural differences in prisons across India. In a recent development, Asiya Andrabi, who has spent much time in prison and who was/is undergoing incarceration was shifted to Srinagar Central Jail , after the intervention of the State Human Right Commission. This welcome development should be in the nature of a precedent that should and must be applied to all Kashmiri political prisoners, regardless of the nature of the case(s) against them. Prisons , by their very nature, are penal infrastructures; the experience within these can be lonely , depressing , emotionally and psychically draining. Because of these issues, prisoners of even the pedestrian variety can suffer from mental and emotional health issues. There is overlaid by the huge and massive backlogs in the Indian judicial system where clearance of cases is a well recognized issue. The lengthy incarceration of prisoners, on account of slack in the clearance of cases coupled with the nature of sentencing can be debilitating for prisoner(s) , at a range of levels. It then becomes imperative that some kind of relief is accorded to the political prisoners of Kashmir. The best relief , under given circumstances , can be shifting these prisoners back to Kashmir. At one fell swoop, two issues- one pertaining to the emotional and mental health of prisoners and the other in the nature of relief to the families of political prisoners – can be resolved. Admittedly, there might be technical issues involved with the shifting of prisoners to Kashmir, but the price paid by these hapless people, makes the whole exercise worth it. Let minds be concentrated on this issue and let the process begin.