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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Geelani demands release of all 891 political detainees

….but Govt withdraws plan of releasing any one of them

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 18: Even as decks had been cleared for release of over a dozen separatist activists and leaders from different jails on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, Government has suddenly withdrawn plan of setting any one of them free.

Reasons were not yet explicitly clear but well-placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that the decision of not releasing any one of the political detainees and prisoners was “final”. According to these sources, there was “serious difference of opinion” with regard to release of Muslim League chief and one-time Jamiatul Mujahideen functionary, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, and few others between sections of top ranking officials and politicians. “At the eleventh hour yesterday, Home Department decided not to release any of the separatist activists, commonly referred to as ‘political detainees’.

Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, made it clear tonight that none of the political detainees or prisoners was being released on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. “In previous years, we used to have a number of such detainees who had been picked up for their involvement in stone pelting and other petty offences. This time around, we have none of such persons in jail”, Mr Sharma clarified to Early Times. He said that those present in jails were involved in serious criminal offences. Some of them were under-trials and others serving terms of imprisonment. As such, he said, there was no question of releasing any detainees or prisoners.

Since last week, most of the valley’s separatist leaders had been demanding release of all the political detainees. In their repeatedly issued statements, they had been invariably seeking release of ‘all political detainees” while leveling allegations against the Government that it had not shown any regard for basic human rights. 

At his massive anti-USA, anti-Israel and anti-India prayers congregation at Jamia Masjid yesterday, Chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference  (Mirwaiz group), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had called upon Omar Abdullah-led coalition government to release all political prisoners around the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. He had alleged that the people identifying or sympathizing themselves with the separatist movement were being “tortured, humiliated and harassed” and the judicial orders in support of their release were not being implemented by Police.

In his today’s statement, hardline separatist and head of a different faction of Hurriyat, Geelani too echoed Mirwaiz Umar’s sentiments. He expressed his concern over the fact ‘political detainees’ were languishing in jails and they were not being set free even after getting court bail and release orders from different courts. He complained that the jail authorities had been meeting out inhuman treatment to the detainees and prisoners in jails, particularly in Jammu.

Geelani urged the Government to immediately release all the 891 political detainees including Faktoo, Massarat Alam Bhat, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, Mir Hafizullah, Mushtaq-ul-Islam, Dr Shafi Shariati, Mohammad Ayub Dar and Shakeel Ahmad Sofi. He said that of the 891, as many as 64 persons had been arrested and detained under the draconian ‘Pubic Safety Act’


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