On prisoners: JKLF chief writes open letter to Sushma Swaraj

On prisoners: JKLF chief writes open letter to Sushma Swaraj
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SRINAGAR: Chairman Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik on Sunday reacted to the speech of India’s External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in Parliament last week wherein she narrated the ordeal of Kulbushan Jadhav’s family in Pakistan.
Sushma told the Parliament that the “emotional reunion” between Kulbhushan Jadhav – the former Navy officer of India convicted by Pakistan of spying – and his wife and mother was used as a “propaganda weapon” by Pakistan, which grossly violated the human rights of the women and presented them as widows, the Times of India had reported.
JLKF chief wrote an open letter to Swaraj “not as a political campaigner but as a common individual, a prisoner, who has served many years of his life in Indian jails and is still forced to endure this torment on daily basis here in Jammu Kashmir”.
“Madam Swaraj, believe me, your words touched the chords of my heart and as a person who has seen the miseries of jail life; I could envisage the tribulation Jadhav’s wife and mother had to go through. A human being has feelings and displays these feelings in melancholies as well as in exhilarations,” Malik said. “Being an advocate of human dignity, rights of prisoners and ascendancy of kindness over cruelty, I stand for the rights of Kulbushan Jadhav too. No matter who he is and what he has done or what he has been condemned for, he is a prisoner, a captive, and every religion, international covenants and human norms endow him and his family certain rights which no one can (or) should deny.”
“Allow me to use this occasion to call upon Pakistani authorities that Pakistan, being a Muslim state, has to be more heedful as the Holy Book of Islam and hundreds of sayings of our Prophet (PBUH) on the rights of prisoners and welfare of their families, their right to mutual meetings and a fair trial are well established facts that need to be pursued in letter and spirit.”
Malik added, “Madam, as a prisoner, I can comprehend the pain of Jadhav family and when during your speech you said that Jadhav’s mother wanted to hug her son after 22 months of long separation but was not allowed to do so, my eyes got wet. My old wounds got scratched too by your poignant lexis. It recalled me of my old mother’s ordeal, who not once but many a times, in the same manner, after her repeated pleadings to jail authorities, was denied a chance to hug me, her only son, at many Indian jails especially at Tihar Jail.”
“This reminded me of the tears of my sister who could not tolerate to see me from behind a glass wall, talking on an intercom just like Jadhav. Her plea to touch me was also discarded on the pretext of security reasons. I recollect my little sister’s tears rolling down her cheeks at Indian notorious Jodhpur jail in 1999, when the then superintend of jail rejected her plea with a strange argument that only blood relation was allowed a meeting and brother sister relation was not a blood relation in his view.”
JKLF chief in the open letter said while the ordeal of Kulbushan Jadhav and his family is “painful” for them, he reminded the Indian external affairs minister that “the records of your country in this context are also not so dazzling”.
Malik said India hanged Kashmiri “freedom fighter” Muhammad Maqbool Butt (in 1984) without allowing him a last meeting with his family members and was buried inside the Tihar Jail, Delhi. He said India hanged Afzal Guru in 2013 “without proving his guilt and just on the pretext to satisfy the collective conscience of Indian masses”.
“It is on record that he (Guru) was not only denied a last chance of meeting his 12-year-old son, an 80-year-old mother and a wailing young wife but even his proper burial was (also) denied by Indian authorities,” he said. “The families of these two Kashmiris are still waiting for their mortal remains to be handed over to them. Isn’t it a grave ‘Be-Adabi’ of humanity too?”
“Moreover, Madam Swaraj, there are thousands of Kashmiris who have disappeared after being picked up by Indian forces from their residences and their families are yet clueless of their whereabouts. Their wives have been named as half widows (a newly introduced terminology) by well reputed international human rights organisations. The continued agony of these families is too worth consideration.”
“Madam, you raised some legitimate questions in your speech about the rights of a prisoner and his family and I also agree with you especially about the right to hug a mother, to touch his wife and to see his children. But this principle should hold same for every prisoner be he a political prisoner, a freedom fighter, a criminal, or any other lawbreaker,” Malik said.
Malik said he recently met with the families of some Kashmiri prisoners languishing in Tihar jail who narrated before me the stories of “same malice and humiliations”.
JKLF chairman said the stories of Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, Ayaz Akbar, Altaf Shah, Shahid-ul-Islam, Peer Saifullah, Raja Meraj-ud-Din, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karatey, Zahoor Ahmad Watali and Nayeem Khan and many others remains the same.
Malik said in 2004, the authorities at Tihar Jail asked him to remove his trousers for a “shameful rectum check-up”. “I resisted this undignified torture which was not meant for me alone but for every prisoner. My refusal to accept torture was reciprocated with an attack on me with bamboo sticks and gun-butts which fractured my right arm,” he said. “I will always stand for the welfare of prisoners whosoever and wherever they are.”
“Madam, the tale of thousands of young Kashmiris and students, who are facing the wrath of your state (for the) last many years, is also worth consideration… Regrettably, the torment and mortification is responsible for pushing many of young Kashmiris to a hard-line path,” he said.
JKLF chief also remind Sushma of the “unethical behaviour” by the management of a Delhi hotel which “refused to take Pakistanis (my wife and her little daughter)”. “I was thrown out of hotel with my little daughter in my lap. It was not the first harassment; earlier your party activists also attacked me and my family at late Khawaja Abdul Gani Lone’s residential flat in Delhi,” he said.
“Madam, antagonistic attitude towards each other has actually taken away humanity and humility from humans… In fact the world has turned a blind eye on human rights and human dignity now. How can one ignore the Abu Ghareeb and Guantanamo Bay jails set out by the mighty human rights champions, where humans dignity and pride was trampled callously, setting out a bad example for the rest of the world.”
“Let us take a leaf out of this present disappointment and tread a path that can make our lives more civilised. Difference in political perceptions, ideologies and endeavours of life shall not turn us away from what makes us distinct from flora and fauna. We have our religious teachings, international covenants and pledges, moral and social bindings that govern our individual and public lives. Let us all pledge to follow these promises and regulations at least in case of prisoners and make their lives and the lives of their families better,” Malik said.
“Khuda Ke Ashiq To Hain Hazaron, Bannu Mein Phirte Hain Mare Mare, Mein Uss Ka Banda Bano Ga Jis Ko Khuda Ke Bandon Se Pyar Ho Ga… “There are thousands of God’s lovers, who are roaming in the wilderness; I shall adore the one who will be the lover of God’s people…,” JKLF chief concluded his open letter with this couplet of poet philosopher Allama Iqbal which “describes this yearning fabulously and I hope one day this will become every human’s desire”.