Pakistan concerned over death of Kashmiri leader Ashraf Sehrai in Indian custody

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Office has said that the government and the people of Pakistan are deeply grieved at the demise of senior All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir Chairman Ashraf Sehrai in Indian custody.

The senior Kashmiri leader was arrested last year on trumped-up charges under the draconian Public Safety Act in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Ashraf Sehrai remained incarcerated in Indian jail under squalid conditions despite the serious deterioration of his health and the prevailing COVID-19 crisis.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that India’s blatant attempts to portray the legitimate Kashmiri struggle as “terrorism”, and to prosecute its leaders through concocted cases, is a clear violation of the UN Charter, UN Security Council, and UN General Assembly resolutions, and international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Spokesperson said that as the COVID-19 situation in India deteriorates, we also remain deeply concerned over the health and safety of the incarcerated Kashmiri leaders as well as other innocent Kashmiris, languishing in jails at undisclosed locations.

Most of these jails are overcrowded and don’t have any provision for precautions against the COVID-19, he said.

Chaudhry said that reportedly, some of the Kashmiri leaders in Indian jails have already contracted Coronavirus. Unfortunately, they are not even provided any medical treatment.

The Foreign Office Spokesperson said that given the worst pandemic situation in India, the Indian government must immediately release the incarcerated Kashmiri leadership and all innocent Kashmiris.

The incarcerated Kashmiri leaders include Aasiya Andrabi, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam, Altaf Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Raja Merajuddin Kalwal, Syed Shahid Yousuf, Shakeel Ahmed, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Zahoor Ahmed, and others. Many others are under house arrest including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

“We once again call upon the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to urge India to drop all fabricated charges against political leaders of IIOJK and provide them complete legal protections, including the right to a free and fair trial,” the Spokesperson said.

The Spokesperson said that for its part, Pakistan will continue to support the Kashmiri people in their rightful struggle against Indian oppression till the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions.

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