With over 400 inmates of Srinagar Central Jail on an indefinite hunger strike since Monday morning, their families protested at the city’s Press Enclave on Tuesday. The families demanded an immediate meeting with their jailed relatives. Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that the government wants to turn “jails into Guantanamo (Bay)”.
“Prisoners are entitled to fundamental human rights & using brute force to quell protests is a clear violation. Pertinent to mention that inmates protested after alleged desecration of Quran. GoI wants to turn Kashmir into an open air prison & convert actual jails into Guantanamo,” tweeted the PDP president.
On Tuesday, relatives of prisoners lodged at the Srinagar Central Jail, protested at Srinagar’s press colony against the jail authorities. The protestors accused the staff of not allowing them to meet their jailed relatives and demanded an immediate shifting of the Central Jail superintendent.
“It has been ten days since the incident (clashes inside jail) and we are not being allowed to meet our loved ones,” said a woman protestor. “We are being turned away from the jail on one pretext or the other. The last time we went there the staff told us that we are free to meet anybody but they (prisoners) are not ready to meet,” she added.
On the intervening night of April 4 and 5, vexed with jail authorities’ decision to shift them to another barrack, inmates clashed with the staff, pelted stones and set jail barracks on fire. The inmates, officials say, suspected that they were being shifted out of the valley and protested against the move.
Over 400 inmates went on an indefinite hunger strike from Monday morning, demanding that the Jail Superintendent of Central Jail Mukesh Kakkar be shifted out. They also demanded that the FIR against them for the April 4 clashes is quashed and that they should not be shifted out of the jail.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Prisons, Mohammad Sultan Lone, who met the prisoners on Tuesday, confirmed to The Indian Express that the prisoners had gone on hunger strike.
“I had been trying to motivate them to meet the relatives,” DIG Lone told The Indian Express. “But they are not ready to meet them”.