‘Out of 3000 in state jails, 1500 are political prisoners’
Srinagar, June 12: The state government is unlikely to follow a tradition, an annual symbolic gesture of releasing some political prisoners in Kashmir on the eve of Eid this year.
Government spokesman, Naeem Akhtar said he was unaware if anyone was being released before the festival.
“I don’t know anything about it (release of political prisoners),” Akther told Greater Kashmir.
According to the prisons department 3000 inmates are lodged in the state’s jails. The Kashmir High Court Bar Association says 1500 of them are political prisoners.
Officials of the Prisons Department also said they had not received any communiqué about the releasing prisoners on Eid eve.
“We would be part of review meeting where a decision to release political prisoners would take place. No such meeting took place,” a senior official at the Prisons Department said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Several times in the past, a review committee set up in 2000 for scrutinising cases of political prisoners would recommend releasing some of them before Eid and other festivals or Republic Day and Independence day, as a goodwill gesture.
The government’s decision not to release any political prisoners this year comes at a time when it claims the Ramadhan ceasefire had sprouted green shoots of peace in Kashmir. The decision is likely to add to the woes of the families who had hoped their loved ones would be released before Eid.
Families of prisoners, who have committed minor offenses, were hoping to reunite with their kin particularly following the Ramadhan ceasefire.
“My son has been framed under a fake case of militancy. I had been pleading for his release since past three years. I was told that government may order the release of some prisoners on Eid eve,” said Mahjabeen, a resident of Newa area of Pulwama district.
Like Mahjabeen, mothers of many prisoners were hoping to see their sons being released before the festival.
“My nephew has been languishing in Delhi’s Tihar jail since 2002. There is no compelling evidence against him but he continues to languish in the prison. We too were hoping for his release as his case was recommended for a review,” said Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Sambora, Pulwama.
On the eve of the Republic Day, the J&K government had ordered the release of eight convicts by remitting their remaining term of imprisonment.
According to Kashmir High Court Bar Association, among the 1500 political prisoners lodged in various jails in and outside the state 37 are serving life sentence.
“There are many who have completed their term of life imprisonment of 14 years as per the Punjab Jail manual which is also applicable to our State,” said advocate G N Shaheen, general secretary of the Kashmir bar association.
“There are prisoners who have minor offenses against them and whose detention order has been quashed multiple times by the respective courts. They should be released on Eid eve.”