Srinagar Dec 03: The state authorities find a physically challenged prisoner Tanveer Ahmad War too dangerous to be freed, although the courts repeatedly quash his detention under Public Safety Act.
Crippled due to polio since childhood, the 35-year-old young man from Baramulla is incarcerated for various charges such as hoisting Pakistani flag atop a mobile phone tower, highjacking truckloads of stones, “leading violent mobs” and also “provoking a separatist leader” to march towards the Line of Control in 2008.
Tanveer is nowadays suffering because the state’s jails have no facilities for disabled persons.
Experts believe that the grounds of detention, which are yet to be proved in the court of law, cannot justify the prolonged detention of a disabled person.
“The grounds of detention sound funny. How can a crippled man climb the huge mobile tower or highjack trucks?” advocate ShafqatHussain, who defends Tanveer in the court, says, adding that Tanveer is not just handicapped but is also suffering from multiple ailments.
“A senior police officer in Barmaulla hates Tanveer so much that he once told him ‘better rot and die in jail’,” Hussain said, quoting Tanveer’s wife Ishrat Abdullah. The government doesn’t empathise with prisoners like Tanveer, he says, adding: “Rather than ensuring better care and special assistance to disabled prisoners, the authorities try to demonise them.”
In a rebuttal to Jammu and Kashmir chief Muhammad Yasin Malik’s statement seeking intervention of global rights bodies into Tanveer’s case, the police on Sunday claimed that Tanveer was involved in 16 cases of “instigating and engineering mob and street violence.”
“The accused was involved in 2016 unrest in old town Baramulla He would decorate his tricycle with Pakistani flags and provoke mobs. With the help of his gang, he highjacked four trucks that were carrying stones and got them unloaded on Baramulla roads to prevent the police from chasing the miscreants,” a police statement read.
The statement claimed that in 2008, Hurriyat leader Sheikh Aziz wanted to return but “Tanveer yelled at him and provoked him to proceed toward LoC.”
In the same procession, Aziz got killed when the forces fired at the procession.
“Police have already accused other individuals in Sheikh Aziz case. But all these cases are yet to be proved. Police might have a long list of charges but they are yet to be proved in the court of law. The key question is why a person who cannot stand on his feet is considered too dangerous to be freed or entitled to special care,” says KhurramParvez, a prominent human rights activist.
Khurram had lost his leg in a bomb blast while he was traveling through North Kashmir to monitor parliamentary elections in 2004. He was detained in Kathua and Kupwara jails in 2016 for allegedly instigating youth on social media.
“People with disabilities need special toilets. When I was in jail I moved an application for a special toilet but the authorities did not provide it. My family had to arrange a toilet chair for me,” Khurram said.
Mehran Khan, who works for the welfare of disabled persons, says the jails are not accessible for the disabled persons. “In our State Disabilities Act (SDA)1998, all public buildings are supposed to have special access and other amenities for disabled persons. Jail is a public building but we see no such facilities for prisoners with disabilities.”
Ironically, the state government recently reconstituted the Commission for the Persons With Disabilities (CPWD) in order enforce the SDA but the vulnerable or disabled persons like Tanveer continue to doubly suffer.
“The CPWD is a newborn department. Jails are not our jurisdiction. But if Tanveer’s kin come up with evidence and approach us, we can strongly recommend what is required for a disabled person in jail,” commissioner CPWD Iqbal Lone told Greater Kashmir.
He said that provision 33 in the state’s jail manual clearly states that the person with any disability should be protected against discrimination and maltreatment and also given special care.
Tanveer War was recently shifted from Kathua jail to Central Jail Srinagar where he has to write his exam for Adeeb course by the University of Kashmir.
Tanveer’s wife Ishrat says besides being crippled for life, Tanveer doesn’t have proper vision and needs sustained medical care to retain the vision.
“Even if my husband has participated in processions when whole Kashmir was on roads, is he so dangerous to be freed? He can’t move two steps without crutches or a wheelchair. I appeal to authorities to consider my husband’s disability a valid reason for mercy,” Ishrat told our Baramulla correspondent Altaf Baba.