LONDON – A British legal body has expressed concern over the continued detention of senior Kashmiri lawyer and President High Court Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom and sought his immidiate release.
In a letter written to Prime Minister NarendraModi on March 5, The Law Society of England and Wales said that they were gravely concerned about Qayoom, who has been detained under the Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA), alongwith others who were arrested after the government of India repealed Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
The legal body also sent copiesof the letter signed by Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England & Wales, to Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, and National Human Rights Commission Chairperson H.L. Dattu.
The letter says that Qayoom’s detention seems to be politically motivated and a consequence of his work as a lawyer and representative for persons detained under the PSA in Kashmir.
Calling his continued detention as “judicial harassment”, the law society emphasises that his ongoing imprisonment “impedes his ability to carry out his legitimate work as a lawyer.”
The Law Society’s letter stated that Qayoom has not been formally charged with any crime and no allegation against him has been tested in a court of law.
The letter further points out that Qayoom, who was shifted outside the Valley after August 5 and lodged in Agra’s Central Jail, did not have access to a lawyer during the first six months of his detention.
“He is in his seventies and suffers from chronic health problems, including diabetes, reduced kidney functions and heart problems. We have been informed that these medical conditions have worsened in detention and that Mr. Qayoom now has to use a wheelchair. We are concerned that Mr. Qayoom’s ongoing detention in Tihar prison is likely to result in Mr. Qayoom’s health deteriorating further,” the letter says, adding that his family has raised serious concerns about the quality of medical care he is currently receiving.
The Law Society’s president urged the relevant authorities to immediately release Qayoom “in the absence of any charges having been brought against him on the basis of sufficient and credible evidence in proceedings that comply with the international fair trial guarantees.”
Authorities have also been asked to ensure his “physical and psychological wellbeing Qayoom in correspondence with international standards regarding detention conditions, including by providing him with the medical care he requires, as well as access to legal counsel and visitation rights”.
It also demands that Qayoom and other members of the legal profession be permitted “without intimidation, harassment or improper interference” to carry out their profession.