Prisoners’ Plight

Published at February 04, 2019 12:30 AM 0Comment(s)3354views

Prisoners’ Plight

In the last few months Hurriyat leaders have been persistently demanding the release of political prisoners who are languishing in different jails in and outside the state. Different Hurriyat groups have accused jail authorities of “inhuman treatment” of the prisoners and also urged rights bodies to intervene and take not of the conditions prevailing in the jails as well of the prisoners where they are lodged. With the ground situation seeing no change as far as the tough government policy is concerned, the demands have been rebuffed compelling some of the Hurriyat leaders to approach institutions and agencies including the United Nations. Earlier, on certain occasions in the state, the government used to be remissive and as goodwill gesture used to take measures to placate the affected people in Kashmir. However, in the last four years the policy and political demeanor has been strictly through the prism of law and order or the barrel of the gun. Despite the criticism by almost all opposition parties in India, mostly the left parties, hitting the knuckles of Kashmiris has not stopped. Opposed to it, those arrested under Public Security Act have also been threatened to be lodged in jails far from their homes and state. In August 2018, after hearing a public interest litigation, J&K High Court directed Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar to compile within two weeks a list of undertrials, including juveniles, who have not been produced before court on the listed hearing of their case. Also reports were sought on nine issues referred by the Supreme Court regarding the maintenance of jail inmates including overcrowding in jails, delay in trial, torture and ill treatment, neglect of health and hygiene, sub-standard food and inadequate clothing, prison vices, no means of communication, streamlining of jail visits, and management of open-air prisons. Apart from the issue of not producing the undertrials before court or even lodging juveniles in prisons, the Hurriyat leaders have repeatedly alleged ill-treatment including confining the prisoners in wards with poor ventilation, harassment by jail authorities, restricting their movement within jails, unhygienic food and water being served to the prisoners and in some cases prisoners who are sick or suffering from any disease are not provided any medical care. Separatists have also accused the government of India of practicing “vendetta policy” by creating such an environment in the jails where prisoners suffer on daily basis. The plight of the prisoners is a legal issue and the allegations of rights violations under The Prisons Act as well as those guaranteed Constitution, call for a thorough investigation, besides consideration under human rights.


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