Daughters of a jailed Hurriyat leader have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and invoked his “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” slogan to seek the release of their “pro-dialogue” and “peace-loving” father from Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
The highly emotional letter from Suzanne and Sundas Shah talk about their meeting with their ailing father in Tihar and how it reminded them about the plight of the mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an alleged Indian spy jailed in Pakistan.
Suzanne and Sundas, who study in a prominent Srinagar missionary school, are the daughters of Shahid-ul-Islam, the spokesperson of the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference, jailed since July last year in a terror funding case probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“In the country where Prime Minister’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ slogan has rekindled hope among the hopeless disadvantaged girl child, we are unable to attend to our studies.
“For us, our home is like a prison, while Daddy has been jailed for months and none of the allegations levelled against him having been proved,” reads the letter that first appeared in a Srinagar-based daily.
“We look forward to an immediate personal intervention by your good self.”
The two girls said the last 11 months of their lives were “like that of orphans” because they were not able to see “our beloved father” before they finally met with him in Tihar recently.
“We were shocked to see him in a very bad shape and worn out as he stood on the other side of a thick glass wall in between. Leave alone touching him, the glass wall was too thick to let our words reach him. One intercom in the poorly-ventilated room was the only means to converse with him.
“We could barely recognise him. A diabetic with hypertension, arthritis, the frail and pale looking Dad has already lost 15 kg because of denial of Medicare.”
They said they don’t know much about the India, Pakistan and Kashmir politics but their “visit to Tihar Jail reminded us of the union of Kulbhushan Jadhav with his aged mother and wife in a prison in Pakistan”.
They said their father was confined within an 8×6-feet cell with criminals and drug addicts, exposing him to a threat to his life.
“(The) meeting with Daddy couldn’t end without horror. When we were yet to finish our conversation with him, the phone line snapped and the lights went off. Someone shouted the time is over. Thus we were denied even a chance to say goodbye to our Dad. We pray that no daughter has to visit Tihar again.”
They said that Shahid-ul-Islam, a close aide of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, “is known for his pro-dialogue stance aimed at peaceful settlement of Kashmir” for which he was attacked by unknown gunmen twice.
“We never expected that (the) peace-loving and moderate voices like him would be treated so shabbily in the world’s largest democracy.”