Kashmiri leader Altaf Shah, jailed for his politics, dies after medical negligence
A Kashmiri leader who was jailed because he opposed the persecution of Kashmiris by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist federal government, has died in a hospital because of negligence in providing him medical care.
Altaf Ahmad Shah, 66, passed away on Tuesday morning at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he was admitted after a diagnosis of late-stage renal cancer.
His family said he did not get appropriate medical care during incarceration.
“Abu [father] breathed his last at AIIMS, New Delhi. As a prisoner,” Shah’s daughter, Ruwa Shah, tweeted.
Shah was a son-in-law of the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who the Indian government targeted because he opposed India’s suzerainty over Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority province.
Shah is the third Kashmiri leader arrested in a bogus case of “terror funding” five years ago to die while jailed.
It was only after the cancer spread to his vital organs that Shah was shifted from New Delhi’s Tihar Jail to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. His daughter said on Twitter that this hospital did not even have an oncology department.
After days of appeals to Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Altaf Shah was shifted to AIIMS.
Human rights activists as well as political parties had appealed for Shah’s release on humanitarian grounds.
“It is against the fundamental human and democratic principles to incarcerate by use of power those who have a divergent political outlook and an ideology at variance from the one espoused by the rulers,” the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an alliance of parties that want Kashmir to secede from India, had said in a release.
Modi’s government has intensified its crackdown on Kashmir, which was downgraded from being a state in 2019 after stripping it of its Constitutionally guaranteed special status.
Since then, thousands of people including journalists, pro-freedom leaders, and political activists in the region have been arrested under draconian laws.
Supreme Court fails to come down heavily on anti-Muslim hate speech
Even though anti-Muslim hate speech, including open calls for genocide, is rampant across India, the Supreme Court has failed to stop it. On Monday, it fell short of its duty yet again while hearing a plea against rising hate speeches against the minority communities in India.
The top court referred to the petition as being “too random” and said a “factual background” was required for the court to take cognizance of the issue.
Petitioner Harpreet Mansukhani claimed the government had failed to act against such speeches, and told the court that the issue of hate speech against Muslims had been raised by 76 lawyers to the ex-Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, who retired in August, who did not take action.
Her petition mentioned 72 instances of hate speech, including the infamous one made at a Hindu religious gathering in the north Indian Haridwar city that blatantly called for a genocide of India’s Muslims. Her petition also included hate speeches involving leaders of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have publicly confessed to killing Muslims.
In response, however, the Supreme Court judges, led by Chief Justice U. U. Lalit, said they don’t know the details of the particular crimes mentioned, their status, and the persons involved. They insisted that the petitioner file specific instances of hate speeches, instead of giving a vague overview of the issue.
Police file charges against organizers of event that called for genocide of Muslims
A day after a BJP lawmaker in Delhi legislature called for a genocide of Muslims, and BJP’s member of Parliament Parvesh Verma called for a “total boycott” of Muslims, the Delhi Police lodged a case against the event’s organizers, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu extremist group.
While police officials claim that the rally was carried out without permission, VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal called the accusation “laughable,” pointing out that police personnel were deployed at the rally. “How was it possible to deploy the police officials if we didn’t take permission?” he asked.
India’s police have long been complicit in allowing such hate speeches by taking no action against the offenders and such events. In December 2021, the police said no hate speech was delivered” at Haridwar.
National Investigation Agency carries out raids across Kashmir on bogus charges
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal agency that has a record of vendetta against Muslims, conducted raids at multiple locations across Jammu and Kashmir, including the residence of a religious scholar Moulana Rehmatullah Qasmi and his seminary, Darul Uloom Raheemiyyah in Bandipora.
The NIA, police, and paramilitary personnel also carried out the raids in Poonch, Rajouri, Pulwama, Shopian, Srinagar, Budgam, and Bandipora districts.
Among those whose homes were raided are renowned religious preacher and head of Darul Uloom Raheemiyyah – Moulana Rehmatullah Qasmi and Samam Ahmad Lone, a professor at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar.
Reports said the NIA raids were investigating the funding of terrorism.
The NIA has focussed on Kashmir against terror funding after the revocation of the region’s semi-autonomous status in 2019. Several people have been arrested by the NIA for alleged funding of separatist activities including senior separatist leader Yasin Malik, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Nayeem Khan, and others.
Kashmir is the world’s most militarized region, as tensions between India and Pakistan have continued over disputed ownership of the region.