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Mufti: “Thousands of young under-trials within jails in & outside J&K”

PoliticsMufti: "Thousands of young under-trials within jails in & outside J&K"

Mehbooba Mufti comments on the thousands of young under trial still in jail and outside whose families lack the resources to meet them.

She also wrote an article published in The Wire, ‘Justice’ Has Lost its Meaning in Jammu and Kashmir, Only the Judiciary Can Help the People Now.” She stated, “Since the Indian constitution was gutted in 2019, every institution meant to uphold and safeguard our rights has been subverted with impunity in Kashmir.”

Mehbooba Mufti, Former Chief Minister of J&K also made a statement on Twitter, “There are thousands of young under-trials within jails in & outside J&K. The majority of these prisoners belong to poor families who lack the resources to visit them even once, let alone fight long-drawn, expensive legal battles. I know of countless parents who’ve had to sell off whatever little land they owned to provide legal aid and get their sons home.”

With reference to this problem, last year, in June 2022, The National Conference called on the government to release Kashmiri youths who are currently imprisoned in different parts of the country. Hasnain Masoodi, a leader of the party and a member of the Lok Sabha, highlighted the plight of mothers in Kashmir who have been unable to see their sons for years due to their incarceration.

Masoodi expressed happiness at seeing Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet his mother on her 100th birthday but pointed out that many Kashmiri mothers are longing to catch a glimpse of their imprisoned sons. He explained that the wait has taken a toll on their mental and physical health, and the poor families cannot afford to travel long distances to visit their incarcerated children.

Those who can afford it face health issues that prevent them from undertaking long journeys. Masoodi emphasized that these families, especially the mothers, continue to suffer in deprivation, and they are appealing to the government to release their sons, considering their advanced age and infirmity. The National Conference leader noted that many of these young individuals have been detained without any charge or trial. He cited judicial pronouncements that recommend detaining individuals near their homes to enable visits from relatives.

The lack of opportunities for intermittent interactions with their families, particularly their mothers, adds to their pain. Masoodi urged the government to revoke the detention of these Kashmiri youths, especially those who have been held on mere suspicion or are first-time offenders. He suggested that, before their release, these detainees should be brought back to Jammu and Kashmir and lodged in jails in the region to provide relief to their parents.

However, nothing has been done so far, and even Mehbooba Mufti’s comments on the arrests have not stirred the government to release anyone.

Mehbooba Mufti’s Views on the Current State of Kashmir

The dilemma of jailed Kashmiris along with the unpopularity Mufti faces presently for joining the BJP at one time puts her in a tight spot even today.  It is probably her tie-up with the BJP that gave them greater inroads to implement the abrogation of Article 370 more easily and Mehbooba Mufti has never been able to regain the trust of most Kashmiris.

Sharing excerpts from the interview with The Telegraph and Mehbooba, when they asked her, ” You are now imprinted in history as the last chief minister of what used to be the state of Jammu and Kashmir. How do you look back over these years, since you took power in alliance with the BJP, and after the dismantling of the state and abrogation of special status under Article 370?”

She replied, “I have no words for it, what am I to say? Kashmiris have been unpeopled, if I could use the word, there is none other, no vocabulary for what has been done to us.”  She went on to say, “If Kashmir was indeed so normal and if not a stone was thrown after August 5, 2019, why were they picked up and why are they in jail? They have adopted the Israeli model of oppression and suppression in Kashmir, New Delhi is doing what Israel does in Gaza and the West Bank. We have been dispossessed and disempowered. But you know what hurts most? It is the celebration of our pain in the rest of the country, the distribution of sweets…

The Telegraph asked her, “Wasn’t it a mistake, a political error, aligning with the BJP?” and she answered that it was a decision based on larger ideas, maybe that was a mistake.

Her “maybe that was a mistake” was not a strong enough assertion of the grave calamity that fell upon Kashmir post Abrogation of Article 370 especially when those hundreds of unwarranted arrests of Kashmiri youth occurred after this.

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