Languishing in jail, 3 Uyghur Muslims seek asylum

Languishing in jail, 3 Uyghur Muslims seek asylum

Approach HC against their repatriation to China; Seek temporary refuge and release from custody

Languishing in a J&K jail for the past three years, three Uyghur Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province have approached Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking asylum as well as freedom from the prison.

Adil, Abdul Khaliq and Abdul Salam, all residents of Thokia (Shako), China, were arrested by Army’s 5 Ladakh Scouts on June 12, 2013, near Sultan Chusu in Leh district of Ladakh. While not much is known about their intrusion into Leh, it is widely believed that they ran away from their homes due to starvation or were heading to Gilgit-Baltistan, where sizeable Uyghur population lives.

After questioning them, the Army handed over the trio to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Later, they were handed over to police, which registered an FIR number 10/ 2013 under section 14 of Foreigners Act, 1946 against them. After completing investigation in the case, the police charge-sheeted them in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Nobra on August 28, 2013.

The court later sentenced them to one and a half year imprisonment which they completed on January 11, 2015. Since then, they are awaiting freedom from District Jail Leh where they are lodged under Public Safety Act – the law which is also used to keep foreigners behind the bars in J&K till they are handed over to their native countries.

Finding no way to get out of jail owing to cruel law of borders, the trio has approached High Court Jammu wing to seek directions for allowing their temporary refuge/ asylum application.

“I have sought directions to the Government of India and J&K Government to allow their asylum / temporary refuge applications,” Advocate Sachin Gupta, who has been engaged by the petitioners, told Greater Kashmir.

He said a few Uyghur families who live in Ladakh approached him to file the petition.

In the petition, the trio have submitted that they would be persecuted and even executed in case they are handed over to their native country.

“…That it is submitted that crossing over to some other country is punishable offence in China. It is further submitted that the moment petitioner is deported to China, petitioners will be facing a criminal charge for crossing over to some other country. There is a high risk that the petitioners will be tortured upon their return to China. It is further submitted that the persecution which the petitioner will be facing may end up in life imprisonment or death,” reads the petition.

The petitioners have also invoked international law to seek asylum and temporary refuge in India.

“The principle of non-refoulment i.e, the international law requires that no state shall return any refugee to a country where his or her life or freedom may be in danger,” the petition reads.

In the petition, the trios have also cited “human rights violations committed against Uyghur population by Han Chinese authorities and Han community.”