Rule of law

Arrest of president of Kashmir Bar Association

Who we wrote to

The prime minister of India.

What’s the issue

Mr Mian Abdul Qayoom, lawyer and president of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, was arrested on 4 August 2019 under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA).

He was arrested with others after the Indian government repealed Article 370 of the Constitution of India. We’ve been informed that the reason for his arrest was a belief that Mr Qayoom would “motivate people to agitate against abrogation of Article 370”.

The PSA permits preventative detention of a person without trial for up to two years. Mr Qayoom has not been formally charged with any crime. We’ve been informed that Mr Qayoom was detained and transferred to Agra Central prison in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, which is many miles away from his home and family members.

Mr Qayoom did not have access to a lawyer during the first six months of his detention.

On 29 January 2020, Mr Qayoom suffered a heart attack and was transferred to hospital. His family has raised serious concerns about:

  • the quality of medical care he received there and
  • the lack of appropriate medical care he’s currently receiving

Mr Qayoom has now been transferred to Tihar prison in New Delhi. He’s in his seventies and suffers from chronic health problems, including diabetes, reduced kidney function and heart problems.

We’ve been informed that these medical conditions have worsened in detention and that Mr Qayoom must now use a wheelchair. We’re concerned that Mr Qayoom’s ongoing detention in Tihar prison is likely to result in his health deteriorating further.

We’re alarmed by the fact that Mr Qayoom’s arrest and detention seems to be politically motivated and a consequence of his work as a lawyer and representative for persons detained under the PSA.

What we asked for

We call on the relevant authorities to:

  • immediately release Mr 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 international fair trial guarantees
  • pending his release, to ensure the physical and psychological wellbeing of Mr Qayoom in line with international standards regarding detention conditions (including by giving him the medical care he needs, access to legal counsel and visitation rights)
  • allow Mr Qayoom and other members of the legal profession in Kashmir to carry out their profession without intimidation, harassment or improper interference

Timeline

August 2019 – Mr Qayoom was arrested, detained in prison and transferred to Agra Central prison

January 2020 – Mr Qayoom suffered a heart attack and transferred to hospital

February 2020 – the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir dismissed a petition against Mr Qayoom’s detention

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