Srinagar: One of the most prominent lawyers and president of Kashmir’s High Court Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom is battling multiple ailments inside Agra jail in Uttar Pradesh without proper medical care, his family says.
Qayoom was arrested from his residence in Srinagar on the intervening night of August 4 and 5, ahead of the government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and subsequent bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. Apart from Qayoom, senior lawyers Nazir Ahmad Ronga, Abdul Salam Rather and Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, the bar’s general secretary was also detained as a part of what the government termed as “preventive measures”.
After his detention, the 70-year-old was shifted from Srinagar’s central jail after four days to Agra jail where his condition, according to his family, aggravated due to multiple ailments in absence of proper medical care.
Despite directions from the J&K High Court early January to provide adequate medical care to Qayoom after he was to be shifted to Tihar, his family says, he continues to suffer inside Agra jail. The court has listed plea challenging his detention under PSA on January 30.
Qayoom, the only male member in his family, has two married daughters and his wife lives alone at his Srinagar residence. Mian Muzaffar, his nephew, told NewsClick that they are very concerned about his health. “It looks like he is slipping from our hands. He is surviving on just one kidney as his other kidney has been removed earlier,” Muzaffar says.
The senior lawyer became the president of the bar association for the 20th term after he was elected unopposed in October 2018. In the past months, since his detention in August, Qayoom has developed alarming levels of Keratin and has lost about 20 kg of weight due to the sickness.
Qayoom, who took charge as the president of Valley’s bar association for the first time in year 1986, was shot on April 22, 1995 by unidentified gunmen. Qayoom was operated nine times before he survived the attack. “His spinal cord was also affected damaging one of his nerves and since then he developed a limp and several other conditions,” Muzaffar says.
Before his arrest, Muzaffar says, Qayoom was diagnosed with 50 per cent blockage in two arteries of his heart. “But, he could not be operated because he has acute diabetes,” he says.
Suffering from hypertension, Qayoom has to take more than a dozen pills everyday, for diabetes, hypertension, prostate malfunction and nine of them particularly to avoid dialysis inside jail. His condition, Muzaffar says, has also deeply affected his wife, who is also a diabetic.
“She has also developed stress especially since she heard about the death of an elderly Kashmiri inmate in Allahabad jail,” Muzaffar says. “We had to convince her that her husband is in a better condition, but she is seriously apprehensive,” Muzaffar added.
What has also aggravated the condition of Qayoom is because he could not undergo a uroflowmetry test since his arrest. “It is scheduled after every two months,” his family says.
The senior lawyer has been arrested on several occasions including in 2010 and 2016 under Public Safety Act (PSA). In September 2017, he was summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a terror funding case following which lawyers in the Valley suspended all work to protest against his summoning. He was, however, given a clean chit after a few days.
Earlier in December, the Centre allowed the release of Kashmir’s prominent trade leader Mubeen Shah on medical grounds. Shah, who runs a handicraft business from Malaysia, was also detained as the government abrogated Article 370 in August.
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