Srinagar: National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi on Monday asked the Centre to release detainees, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, who are lodged in prisons within and outside the union territory.
Masoodi said the overcrowding in jails was in conflict with social distancing – a key response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is to draw your kind attention to the plight of hundreds of detainees under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Ambedkar Nagar, Agra, Tihar and other jails outside Jammu and Kashmir.
“The detainees, it needs to be realised, are detained without charge and trial on a mere suspicion, later found to be misplaced,” the Lok Sabha member from South Kashmir said in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Masoodi, a retired High Court judge, said there are numerous judicial pronouncements commanding the government to lodge the detenue in a jail nearest to home so that the relatives and friends visit the detenue and the detenue, due to lack of social interaction, is not exposed to mental trauma.
“In case of the detainees lodged in jails outside J-K, the direction is being observed in breach. It needs no emphasis that a detenue is not denuded of all his rights at the ‘prison gate’ but continues to have available a number of rights including the right to have interview with friends and relatives after reasonable intervals,” the letter stated.
Masoodi said the lockdown and restrictions imposed on travel and traffic, to combat the COVID-19 crisis would make it impossible for the relatives to visit the detenue lodged a few hundred miles from his home.
“Resultantly, the detenue would be exposed to immense psychological distress and his valuable constitutional right defeated. This apart, the detention as universally accepted, because of overcrowding is in conflict with social distancing – a key response to COVID-19 crises.
“The detainees, otherwise held without charge or trial, against the said backdrop, deserve to be released and the detention orders revoked,” he said.
The MP sought the release of the detainees, saying till the time their detention orders are revoked, they be shifted to the jails within Jammu and Kashmir.
“I would therefore request you to direct revocation of detention orders against all the detainees lodged within and outside J-K and pending such revocation, request you to direct immediate shifting of all the detainees lodged outside J-K back to J-K forthwith,” the National Conference leader said in the letter.