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Naeem Akhtar set free from preventive detention after 5 months

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Srinagar: Three days ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, authorities on Monday released People’s Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar from preventive detention after five months, the party said.

“Akhtar was released on Monday after remaining in illegal incarceration for five months,” a PDP spokesman said.

While welcoming the release of the senior party leader, PDP general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura demanded the release of other political prisoners as well.

“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,” Hanjura said.

He said five months ago Akhtar and another senior PDP leader 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 authorities to release Madni, Hanjura said given the prevailing health scare and lockdowns it makes no sense for the government to keep him under detention.

“When the whole of the country, including J&K, is under lockdown, people are restricted to their homes and Supreme Court 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?

“Given the COVID scare the families cannot even meet them. Administration should give up on its vindictiveness and release Sartaj immediately,” he said adding “Is it not ironic that even after NIA gave bail to party youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, its state counterpart continues to detain him under similar charges for which the NIA court has already given him the bail.”

Hanjura also urged the government to release other political prisoners lodged in different jails in and outside of Jammu and Kashmir on humanitarian grounds.

Meanwhile, Apni Party president Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Monday welcomed Akhter’s release.

“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,” Bukhari said in a statement.

He demanded that the Supreme Court directives for the release of prisoners to tide over the pandemic may be implemented by the J&K high-powered committee.

Bukhari remarked that the government should also consider the release of other political prisoners by adopting the guidelines of the National Legal Services Authority on the issue.

“While the release of Naeem sahib is a welcome move, our demand for the release of other colleagues, who have been unjustly detained, remains persistent,” he asserted.

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