COVID-19: Families demand release of prisoners

COVID-19: Families demand release of prisoners

Representative image. (PTI Photo)

In the wake of coronavirus scare across the world, concerned family members of Kashmiri prisoners who have been lodged in various jails across the country since Article 370 was revoked, have demanded the immediate release of their kin on humanitarian grounds.

Hundreds of people, political leaders, activists and civil society members were detained when the Center scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories, last August.

Ateek Bano, whose son Faisal Aslam Mir is currently lodged in Ambedkar Nagar jail, in Uttar Pradesh, appealed the government to release his son on humanitarian grounds. “It (coronavirus) is like a plague and can reach anywhere, be it a jail. My anxiety grew after I came to know that the deadly virus is spreading in many states of India,” she said.

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Her views were echoed by Zamrooda Begum, whose son Asif Khushoo was arrested on August 5 last year and transferred to a jail in Agra, some 1,600 kilometres away from his home in Srinagar.

“We are planning to hold a demonstration outside the high court to press the government regarding the release of the prisoners in the wake of the virus outbreak. Authorities should facilitate the release of all prisoners,” she demanded.

Meanwhile, the J&K government Saturday informed that 164 persons have completed their 28-day surveillance period and, so far, only two cases have been tested positive in the union territory. According to the daily Media Bulletin on novel coronavirus (COVID-19), 1878 travellers and persons in contact with suspected cases have been put under surveillance while as 1567 persons are under home quarantine.

Persons who are in hospital quarantine stand at 24 and 123 persons are under home surveillance. Further, the bulletin said that 89 samples have been sent for testing, of which 78 tested as negative and only two cases have tested positive, so far while as reports of nine cases are awaited till March 14, 2020.

Reiterating that there was no need to panic, the media bulletin advised the public to maintain social distancing,  avoid unnecessary travel and use of public transport; avoid crowded places and large gatherings, taking basic precautions for personal hygiene; frequent hand washing with soap and water, and observing coughing and sneezing etiquette.