The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has welcomed the release of senior party leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar after five months of incarceration, and sought the release of all political prisoners languishing in jails in and outside of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement issued on Monday, PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said the continued ‘illegal’ incarceration of political leaders despite the raging pandemic belittles the claims of restoration of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir trumpeted by the government.

“Five months ago, Naeem Akhtar and Sartaj Madni were arbitrarily picked up on frivolous grounds and put in jail without any rhyme and reason. Despite their old age and numerous underlying medical issues, they were kept in detention even during the raging pandemic depicting the vindictiveness of the administration. Even after his release from jail, Naeem Akhtar continues to be under house arrest,” Hanjura said.

Urging the authorities to release senior party leader Sartaj Madni, Hanjura said given the prevailing health scare and lockdowns, it makes no sense for the government to keep Sartaj Madni under detention.

“When the whole of the country, including J&K, is under lockdown, people are restricted to their homes and the Supreme Court is urging governments to decongest jails, what logic does it serve to keep a former legislator and a senior political leader under detention on unknown grounds?

“The families cannot even meet them given the Covid scare. The administration should give up on its vindictiveness and release Sartaj Madni immediately,” he said.

“Isn’t it ironic that even after the NIA gave bail to the pdarty’s youth wing president Waheed ur Rehman Parra, its state counterpart continues to detain him under similar charges for which the NIA court has already granted him bail.

“The charges against Waheed are mendacious, politically motivated and reeks of vengeance. The authorities should immediately order his release and end his ordeal and long tryst with injustice,” Hanjura added.

He also urged the government to release other political prisoners lodged in different jails in and outside J&K on humanitarian grounds.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari welcomed the release of Naeem Akhtar.

In a party statement, Altaf Bukhari said, “It has been our consistent demand that the government should release all political prisoners languishing in jails within and outside J&K given an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in the country”.

–IANS

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