Inside Kashmir

COVID: Release political prisoners lodged in & outside J&K jails, says Tarigami

Srinagar: CPI(M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami on Tuesday said that Kashmiri political prisoners lodged in various jails within and outside J&K must be released as unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases across the country has put their lives in congested jails at risk.

The Supreme Court recently directed the high-powered committees to consider release of fresh prisoners by adopting the guidelines of the National Legal Services Authority on the issue to decongest jails.

Mr Tarigami said hundreds of Kashmiri prisoners, including some teenagers, are languishing in jails within and outside J&K for years now. ‘Some of them are behind the bars for years together and their cases need to be reviewed in the light of Supreme Court directions,’ he said.

The CPI(M) leader said health conditions of some Kashmiri prisoners, lodged in Tihar and other jails outside the Valley, have deteriorated in recent times and if they are not released, it could prove fatal for them due to rising Covid-19 cases. ‘Some of them are in old age and suffer from multiple ailments,’ he said.

He said in the absence of proper medical assistance, these prisoners feel helpless and are in distress, adding it would be prudent to release all prisoners, at least on parole, keeping in view the alarming situation due to Covid-19.

‘There are also prisoners who have minor offences against them and whose detention order has been quashed multiple times by the courts. The Government has failed to prove charges against several people arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and other such laws. They should be released,’ he said.

Mr Tarigami said releasing all political prisoners in these tough times can end the miseries of their families as well. ‘The present situation is a humanitarian crisis of the worst kind and the government needs to take a holistic view on the condition of prisoners,’ he said.

‘Releasing prisoners before Eid could be a good gesture by the government,’ he added.

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