Iltija Mufti, the daughter of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, has written a letter to Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu appealing him to release all the Kashmiri prisoners from jails in wake of the coronavirus outbreak
“As you are aware, thousands of Kashmiris including my mother Ms Mufti, ex Chief Minister J&K have been jailed since 5th August. As the world prepares to battle the deadly COVID (already declared a global pandemic by WHO), India in all likelihood has entered Stage 3 in which the virus spreads through community transmission. J&K has already reported 4 cases & the numbers will go up exponentially in the coming weeks,” the letter reads.
“Since no known medication/vaccination for COVID exists as yet, self isolation has emerged as the safest bet to fight the outbreak. Overcrowded jails & lack of healthcare therefore makes these detainees highly vulnerable to the deadly contagion. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that prisons all over India might become the new epicentre of this epidemic.”
‘Senior citizens over 65 & those with an underlying illness such as diabetes, hypertension & breathing issues are especially susceptible to COVID. There are hundreds of senior citizens from the Valley battling multiple ailments across jails in the country. Some of these detainees come from humble families where the members haven’t been able to afford a single trip to visit their sons & brothers lodged in jails outside Kashmir. You can well imagine their anxiety & concern in the wake of COVID pandemic.”
“Keeping in mind the aforementioned circumstances, I would like to request you to release all detainees immediately & allow them to return home. At a time when jails even in USA are releasing inmates, one fails to understand reluctance of GOI in freeing detainees jailed for the past 8 months on trumped up charges,” letter reads.
“We are in the midst of an extraordinary medical situation & healthcare systems all over the world are collapsing. I urge you to consider my request. I’m sure you will agree the collective health &well being of each of these detainees overrides every other consideration / rationale for their detention,” Iltija wrote.