Srinagar: J&K High Court Bar Association Srinagar, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) chairman Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, and Muslim League on Saturday condemned the use of force against the jail inmates at central jail Srinagar.
“Bar Association denounced the use of force against the inmates of Central Jail, Srinagar, in which reportedly two inmates have been wounded and many others have received injuries and has decided to take up the matter before the High Court, where a PIL, with regard to the providing of better facilities to the prisoners lodged in the jails, both inside and outside the valley, is pending consideration, for initiating appropriate action against those who have taken law in their own hands and “have beaten, ill-treated and tortured the inmates of Central Jail, Srinagar, without any authority of law,” the statement said.
Bar maintained that under Jail Laws – every prisoner has a right to human dignity and non-deprivation of his fundamental rights. “They have to be provided adequate diet, health, medicare, clean and hygienic conditions and proper clothing, bedding and equipment. They have to be provided facilities regarding interviews with their families and to contact their lawyers. The prison authorities have also to take steps for ensuring the speedy trial of their cases and grant of bail to them. In every jail, which has a population of 200 prisoners, canteen facilities have also to be provided to the inmates. The Prison Laws also provide of shifting of prisoners to hospitals in emergent cases,” Bar said.
“There is however no law which provides that after sunset the prisoners should be marched out of their barracks for going to any other place or subjecting them to any ill treatment,” Bar said.
“Asking the prisoners to shift from old barracks to the new ones at around 9 p.m. on Thursday, was not therefore permissible under law. It is however unfortunate that the jail authorities of Central Jail, Srinagar, according to their own showing, had asked the inmates at 9 p.m. on Thursday, to shift to new barracks which reportedly lead to an altercation, providing an excuse to the jail authorities to resort to desecrate several religious scriptures and fire bullets and pellets on them due to which dozens got seriously injured,” Bar added.
Bar further said that the prison authorities including the officers/officials of Central Jail, Srinagar, have all along been for the shifting of the Kashmiri detainees/under trial prisoners lodged in Central Jail, Srinagar, under court orders, to outside jails to make their appearance before the Courts, where their cases are pending trial, impossible.
“The District and Sessions Judge, Srinagar, who under the orders of the High Court is required to visit all the jails and interrogation centres located in District Srinagar, after every two months and submit the report to the High Court regularly, should have himself rushed to the Central Jail, Srinagar on Friday itself, to find out the truth but he has not done so, for the reasons beyond one’s comprehension. He being the head of the team, which is to visit the jail after every two months, should immediately visit the jail and submit his report to the High Court accordingly,” Bar stated.
In a statement, Sehrai said: “Thrashing of jail inmates in Srinagar central jail is extremely inhuman. The way jail authorities treating all these prisoners is complete violation of jail manual.”
He said that “the ghastly act has put the lives of all Kashmiri political prisoners in risk.”
He asked the authorities to provide suitable treatment and facilities to all prisoners and ensure their security and safety. He said that “the detainees are subjected to political vengeance. The authorities even ignore the ruling of Supreme Court regarding prisoners wherein it has clearly directed state authorities to lodge detainees adjacent to their home cities”.
The pro-freedom leader said, “Those claiming to be the champions of democracy are violating the basic norms of humanity while treating these detainees in total violations of norms set by international community. These detainees are not criminals involved in any offence but they represent political aspiration of their nation”.
He alleged that political prisoners are ill-treated and humiliated “for their affiliation with freedom struggle, and added that every now and then, “the detainees are mercilessly beaten and thrashed and later confined to cells and solitary confinement”.
While hailing the commitment and steadfastness of detainees, he asked ICRC, Asia Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations to come to the rescue of these detainees and impress India to treat detainees as per charter laid down by the international community.
Muslim League general secretary M. Rafiq Ganaie condemned the incident and said, “The plight of Kashmiri prisoners in various jails is already worse due to a biased attitude of jail authorities. but resorting to lathi charge , using pellet guns in Srinagar Central Jail has made it clear that the administration is openly violating the principles of human rights.”
He said that “jail authorities try every weapon to harass and physically insult the prisoners and deliberately kept with hard-core criminals endangering their life. They are prisoners of conscience and are subjected to political vendetta”.
He termed it “revengeful and biased behaviour of jails authorities”.
“Proper medical aid and other facilities they are eligible to, according to the jail manual, are completely denied to them. Substandard food is supplied to the inmates and their lives are put to danger and trouble,” Ganaie said.
He while hailing the commitment and steadfastness of detainees, asked Asia Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights organisations to take note of the plight of Kashmiri prisoners and play role for their early release.