J&K visitors find it tough to meet jailed kin in Uttar Pradesh despite relaxed norms
Around 245 prisoners including politicians, lawyers, leaders owing allegiance to various separatists groups in the valley, alleged stone-pelters and even terror suspects, were shifted from J&K to UP.
LUCKNOW: Iqbal Dar (name changed) who had come all the way from Kulgam in Jammu and Kashmir to meet his brother lodged in Lucknow jail had to return disappointed without the meeting as he could not get his identity verified by cops back home.
Iqbal’s brother is among the 24 J&K prisoners who were shifted to Lucknow jail on August 10 after the abrogation of Art 370 on August 5.
The jail administration denied him a meeting as Dar failed to produce a letter from the J&K police and local intelligence authorities of the state verifying his identity.
Iqbal was not the only one to have gone through the agony. Many more who had come to meet their near and dear ones lodged in various jails across Uttar Pradesh met the same fate.
However, kin of five prisoners from J&K have been able to meet them so far as they produced the required identity verification papers.
“We have to be extremely cautious in such matters. We can’t take chances as it is a very sensitive issue. Unless we get the identity of the visitors verified by competent authorities, we can’t allow them to meet the prisoners,” says a senior officer from the jail administration.
Around 245 prisoners including politicians, lawyers, leaders owing allegiance to various separatists groups in the valley, alleged stone-pelters and even terror suspects, were shifted from Jammu & Kashmir to seven UP jails including Agra, Bareilly, Lucknow, Naini in Prayagraj, Varanasi, Fatehpur and Ambedkarnagar over the last one month.
However, recently, the UP government has relaxed some of the rules to facilitate visitors’ meetings with prisoners from J&K. “Now the visitors are required to carry the identity documents verified by the J&K police and local intelligence authorities with them and can get access to their kin in UP prisons,” said a jail official in Lucknow.
On the contrary, earlier, the visitors were supposed to bring their documents here and UP police would send the papers back to J-K police authorities seeking a verification report before allowing the meeting, said the officer.
“It used to take many days as the papers were sent back to the J&K police after the visitors arrive at the jail and if the J&K authorities did not respond, the visitors had to go back without meeting their jailed relative,” said a jail official.
The officials added that now under the changed process, visitors are supposed to carry along their verification report duly issued by their state police authorities instead of going through the previous lengthy process that was initiated after they arrived at a jail in UP.
However, the problem is continuing and the visitors are coming without requisite paperwork as they are not aware of the changed rule.
“We are trying to send the message about the changed rule across to save the visitors the hassle,” said a senior official.
Even more, the prisoners in various UP jails have also been asked by the jail authorities to furnish details of their relatives and families who could come to meet them so as to streamline the verification process further.
The jail administration has made separate arrangements to facilitate meetings of J&K based visitors with their kin. “In Lucknow district jail and even other jails as well, J&K prisoners have been lodged in separate barracks under the tightest security arrangements. They are being provided the same food and facilities as other inmates,” said the officer.
There is also an option for J&K residents to apply online through the ‘e-prisons’ facility to meet their relatives in UP jails. “But it will be possible only after the restoration of internet services in the Valley,” said a senior police official.
Local intelligence officials too have a crucial role to play in the process. Initially, after receiving the application for meeting from a J&K visitor, the jail administration forwards it to them to get all the details recorded including the purpose of meeting, relationship of the visitor with the prisoner, details of the visitors and his/her identity. The record of the visit is also maintained.