A member of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, who was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in July, died inside a jail in Uttar Pradesh where he was lodged, relatives and officials said.
It is the first death of a political prisoner from the Kashmir Valley in a jail outside the state since August 5, when the central government revoked the special status of J&K and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.
Officials said PSA detainee Ghulam Mohammed Bhat died inside the Naini jail in Prayagraj. Bhat was among 600 persons from J&K held under “preventive detention”, including over 200 in jails outside the Valley, mainly in UP.
According to the family members of Bhat, who was in his 60s, they were informed Friday evening that he was unwell. “Early Saturday morning, I was sent to Uttar Pradesh. As soon as we reached Naini jail in the evening, I was told that my father had passed away,” said Bhat’s son, Haneef Mohammad.
Bhat was buried in Kulangam village of Handwara in Kupwara district Sunday evening. Haneef said he was first informed several days ago that Bhat was not keeping well. “I told the police to bring him back and that the family would provide treatment here,” he said.
“We don’t know the cause of death. My father couldn’t walk properly… At the jail, officers said he had a liver problem,” said Haneef.
Haneef confirmed that his father was a Jamaat member. “He had appeared before police on July 16 and later shifted to a jail outside the state,” he said.
Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Anshul Garg said: “Bhat was booked under PSA. We had sent him to the Srinagar Central Jail. It was the decision of the Home Department to send him outside the Valley. We had no information that he was ailing, and Prayagraj authorities informed us of the death yesterday. We are not aware of the cause of death.”
Following the death, a post on detained former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Twitter handle, which is being run by her daughter Iltija Mufti, said that the Union Home Ministry “has blood on its hands & must be held accountable”.