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March 8, 2021

Activists call for release of Kashmiri political prisoner

World

 
March 8, 2021

WASHINGTON: Activists have called for the release of Masarat Alam Bhat a Kashmiri youth leader who has been detained dozens of times under India’s draconian Public Safety Act for nearly two decades for advocating for the right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people.

“Masarat is a political prisoner who has spent 24 years in Indian jails. He is 48. He is in jail not because he is guilty of a crime – though he has been charged with a miscellany of offenses under arbitrarily drawn and enforced regulations – but because he believes that the people of Kashmir should be free to decide their own future in accordance with the pledge extended to them under the authority of the United Nations Security Council,” said Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum at a meeting in Washington, DC on Saturday. The meeting was held to raise the awareness about the political prisoners in Kashmir, a statement said.

Saleem Qadri, representative of Bhat, said currently Masarat has been detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA). Although the courts have quashed 38 PSA’s against him completely. PSA, Qadri said, is a draconian law which enables the Indian army in Kashmir to detain civilians for up to one year without trial or due process for a wide variety of reasons. For example, under this act, an individual whose child has been murdered by Indian army and speaks out publicly against India’s campaign can be detained for up to one year without trial for endangering “public safety”.

Also under this act an individual who produces pamphlets or newsletters that advocate the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir can also be arrested and detained without formal charge or due process.

Sardar Zarif Khan, President, Kashmir Solidarity Council, Washington Metropolitan area said the people of Kashmir have come on the streets and marched towards the office of United nations Military Overseer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and submitted hundreds of memoranda to apprise the world body of the tragic and intolerable situation in Kashmir. It is ironic that this documentation should have failed to become a part of data for the consideration of the Security Council.