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COVID: Mehbooba writes to PM, seeks release of political prisoners, detainees

Mehbooba said throughout the world, most countries have released prisoners on parole in view of the alarming COVID crisis.

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Srinagar: Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking release of Kashmiri political prisoners and detainees lodged in different jails in and outside J&K amid unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country.
Mehbooba said worrying reports about prisoners dying due to COVID-19 and subsequent lack of medical attention have been trickling in and at a time when the system is struggling to cope with this horrendous situation, the lives of prisoners may be the least priority.
‘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,’ she wrote in the letter addressed to the Prime Minister.
Mehbooba said that the sense of helplessness is so acute and pervasive that the living beings 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,’ she said.
The PDP president said one doesn’t wish or want to politicise 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,’ said said.
‘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 wrote in the letter.
The former chief minister said as far as Kashmir is concerned, it is no secret that hundreds, or maybe 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,’ she alleged.
‘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 & was deprived of medical care,’ she said.
Mehbooba said throughout the world, most countries have released prisoners on parole in view of the alarming COVID crisis. ‘A democratic and civilised 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,’ she added.
‘I hope you will give due consideration to this matter and order their release,” she said at the end of her letter.

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