Inside Kashmir

Covid-19 Surge: Mehbooba writes to PM Modi, seeks release of political prisoners, detainees

Srinagar: Former chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti on Friday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking release of all the political prisoners and detainees in wake of the ongoing pandemic.

Mehbooba has sent a letter to PM Modi in which she has stated that “I write to you at a time when the entire country has been engulfed by a deadly second wave of COVID. Unfortunately the health infrastructure has completely collapsed & the harrowing images of stranded COVID patients gasping for breath have shocked us all.”

The letter reads that the sense of helplessness is so acute and pervasive that the living are quite literally suffocating to death while the dead suffer indignity even after losing the battle to this virus. “Families have watched on helplessly as they struggle to even accord their loved ones the proper dignified last rites of passage.”

“One doesn’t wish or want to politicize the human tragedy that has befallen us all. It’s an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of caste, colour, religion or social status and has affected everyone. Perhaps the only silver lining in this tragic time is how Indians cutting across religious and regional lines are coming together to lend each other a helping hand,” she said in a letter.

“Worrying reports about prisoners dying due to COVID-19 and subsequent lack of medical attention have been trickling in. At a time when the system is struggling to cope with this horrendous situation, lives of prisoners may be the least priority,” she said.

The letter further reads that as far as Kashmir is concerned, it is no secret that hundreds, or may be thousands of detainees and political prisoners arrested since August 2019 continue to languish in jails both in and outside J&K. “Most of them are detained under preventive laws and don’t face any prosecution. Many continue to be held even after courts granted them bail. Most recent reminder of the lurking threat to their lives is Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai’s death who lost his life because he contracted COVID in jail and was deprived of medical care.”

She further said that throughout the world, most countries have released prisoners on parole in view of the alarming COVID crisis. “A democratic and civilized country like India shouldn’t drag its feet and must release these detainees immediately so that they can return home at a time when life feels so threatened. I hope you will give due consideration to this matter and order their release,” she said in the letter.

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