Srinagar, Jan 1 : Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik took up the cause of prisoners, including retired Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav jailed in Pakistan, in an open letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
In the letter released to the media here yesterday, he said that he was “touched” by Swaraj’s speech in Parliament on December 28 about the treatment meted out to Jadhav’s family in Pakistan.
“…your words touched the chords of my heart and as a person who has seen the miseries of jail life, I could envisage the tribulation Jadhav’s wife and mother had to go through,” he said.
The JKLF chief called upon Pakistan to follow in letter and spirit the rights of a prisoner.
“Allow me to use this occasion to call upon Pakistani authorities…their (prisoners’) right to mutual meetings and a fair trial are well established facts that need to be pursued in letter and spirit,” the letter read.
Malik, however, added that India’s record on the matter was also “not dazzling”.
India has accused Pakistan of violating mutual understandings on Jadhav’s meeting with his wife and mother in Islamabad on December 25.
Jadhav, who was captured in March last year, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged spying, an accusation that India has dismissed as concocted.
New Delhi says Jadhav was kidnapped in Iran where he had legitimate business interests, and brought to Pakistan. To save Jadhav, India moved the International Court of Justice, which ordered Pakistan in May to stay his execution.
The Letter reads as below :
Respected Sushma Suwaraj Jee
Minister for Foreign Affairs, India.
Madam Sushma Jee:
In public life, from time to time, it becomes necessary to converse
one’s insights, apprehensions and worries to others in public life
on the imperative issues of our time in an open and honest manner.
It is in this long tradition of public communication between
individuals and in a spirit of honesty and frankness, that I
address your good self through this open letter. I am penning down
these lines not as a political campaigner but as a common
individual, a prisoner, who has served many years of his life in
Indian jails and is still forced to endure this torment on daily
basis here in Jammu Kashmir. On 28th December 2017, I was listening
to your emotional speech you made in Indian parliament wherein you
in your own words illustrated the ordeal of Indian prisoner
Kulbushan Yadhavâ€™s meeting with his family in Pakistan on 25th
December. Madam Suwaraj, believe me, your words touched the chords
of my heart and as a person who has seen the miseries of jail life;
I could envisage the tribulation Yadhavâ€™s wife and mother had to go
through. A human being has feelings and he/she displays these
feelings in melancholies as well as in his/her exhilarations. This
is what makes us distinct from the animal world. Being an advocate
of human dignity, rights of prisoners and ascendancy of kindness
over cruelty, I stand for the rights of Kulbushan Yadhav too. No
matter who he is and what he has done or what he has been condemned
for, he is a prisoner, a captive and every religion, international
covenants and human norms endow him and his family certain rights
which no one can and should deny. Allow me to use this occasion to
call upon Pakistani authorities that Pakistan being a Muslim state
has to be more heedful as the Holy Book of Islam and hundreds of
sayings of our Prophet (PBUH) on the rights of prisoners and
welfare of their families, their right to mutual meetings and a
fair trial are well established facts that need to be pursued in
letter and spirit.
Madam : as a prisoner, I can comprehend the pain of Yadhav family
and when during your speech you said that Yadhav’s mother wanted to
hug her son after 22 months of long separation but was not allowed
to do so, my eyes got wet. My old wounds got scratched too by your
poignant lexis. It recalled me of my old motherâ€™s ordeal, who not
once but many a times, in the same manner, after her repeated
pleadings to jail authorities, was denied a chance to hug me, her
only son, at many Indian jails especially at Tihar Jail . This
reminded me of the tears of my sister who could not tolerate to see
me from behind a glass wall, talking on an intercom just like
Yadhav. Her plea to touch me was also discarded on the pretext of
security reasons. I recollect my little sistersâ€™ tears rolling down
her cheeks at Indian notorious Jhodpur jail in 1999, when the then
superintend of jail rejected her plea with a strange argument that
only blood relation was allowed a meeting and brother sister
relation was not a blood relation in his view. As a dignified woman
you can envisage the trauma my little sister â€œAaminaâ€ had to pass
through when she had to leave and travel thousands of miles again
back to home without meeting her brother.
Madam: I and everyone who has some empathy left in him went into
tears when you quoted Yadhavâ€™s mother saying that on seeing her
without Mangalsutra her prisoner son asked about the welfare of his
father assuming that he might have died because mother was without
a Bindiya on her forehead and Mangalsutra. I could visualize the
situation as hundreds of times during my jail Yatra these kinds of
thoughts haunted me too.
Madam: the ordeal of Indian prisoner and his family is painful for
them but allow me to remind you that the records of your country in
this context are also not so dazzling. It is India that hanged
Kashmiri freedom fighter Muhammad Maqbool Butt without allowing him
a last meeting with his family members. His younger brother late
Ghulam Nabi Butt, who wanted to travel to Delhi to receive his
elder brothers corpse, was arrested at Srinagar airport. Maqbool
Butt in absence of his family members was buried inside the Tihar
jail. It is India that, without proving his guilt and just on the
pretext to â€˜satisfy the collective conscience of India masses,
hanged another Kashmiri youth, Muhammad Afzal Guru in 2013. It is
on record that he not only was denied a last chance of meeting his
12 year son, 80 year old mother and a wailing young wife but even
his proper burial was denied by the Indian authorities. The
families of these two Kashmiris are still waiting for their mortal
remains to be handed over to them. Isnâ€™t it a grave Be-Adabi of
humanity too? Moreover, Madam Suwaraj; there are thousands of
Kashmiris who have disappeared after being picked up by Indian
forces from their residences and their families are yet clueless of
their whereabouts. Their wives have been named as â€˜half widowsâ€™ (a
newly introduced terminology) by well reputed international human
rights organizations. The continued agony of these families is too
Madam, antagonistic attitude towards each other has actually taken
away humanity and humility from humans. Humanâ€™s especially the
divergent states often lay blame on one another for tyrannies and
cruelty. In fact the whole world has turned a blind eye on human
rights and human dignity now. How can one ignore Abu Ghareeb and
Guantanamo bay jails set out by the mighty human rights champions,
where humans dignity and pride was trampled callously, setting out
a bad example for the rest of the world.
Madam: as a human being I stand for the ascendance of humanity in
every aspect of life. Someone has rightly said that â€œfailure will
never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough
and that no success is final and no failure fatal, it is courage to
continue that countsâ€ . Let us take a leaf out of this present
disappointment and tread a path that can make our lives more
civilized. Difference in political perceptions, ideologies and
endeavors of life shall not turn us away from what makes us
distinct from flora and fauna. We have our religious teachings,
international covenants and pledges, moral and social bindings that
govern our individual and public lives. Let us all pledge to follow
these promises and regulations at least in case of prisoners and
make their lives and the lives of their familiesâ€™ better. This
couplet of Allama Iqbalâ€™s describes this yearning fabulously and I
hope one day this will become every humanâ€™s desire;
â€œKhuda kay banday tou hain hazaroon Banoo main Phirtay hain Maray
Main us ka banda banooga jis ko khuda kay bandoon say Piyaay Hogaâ€
Muhammad Yasin Malik