Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has expressed deep concern over Covid-19 situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), saying the valley has become a coronavirus hotspot because of occupation authorities’ mismanagement of the pandemic and their discriminatory policy towards Kashmiris.
He said that the coronavirus pandemic in IIOJK has spiked with over 200,000 infections and more than 2,500 deaths. "Every day more than 3,500 new cases are being reported and the latest daily cited fatalities have been more than 50."
Masood appealed to Director General of the WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to intercede to save the Kashmiris from the rapid march of death in the occupied territory. "Without adequate support and attention Kashmiris are being devoured by the pandemic."
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He also urged the leadership of China, United States, western nations and the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to send a special consignment of medicines, ventilators and oxygen, specifically for the Kashmiris.
“This situation is alarming because Kashmiris of the occupied territory are not receiving medical support and care to beat the deadly virus. Besides, Covid positive cases and fatalities are being underreported,” he added.
The plight of people of IIOJK, the AJK president said, is compounded by the fact that their leaders – detained in Tihar jail and other prison houses in the Himalayan territory and northern India – are not receiving medical care. “Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Shahidul Islam and Farooq Ahmed Dar, imprisoned in Tihar jail, have tested Covid positive.”
Moreover, he said that India is shifting scores of Kashmiri detainees, who are actually prisoners of conscience, to prison houses all over northern India. "Recently, they have moved inmates to prison houses in Haryana, Agra and Varanasi," he added.
The state president demanded that the political prisoners, imprisoned without due process under draconian law, must be released forthwith. In this context, he asked the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) to play their role to mitigate the suffering of the Kashmiri people.
He said that since the Indian government treats IIOJK as a colony, it has reportedly moved 250 ventilators to New Delhi and a shortage of oxygen has been reported from many locations of the occupied territory.
The president said that the acute shortage of vaccine is depriving people of immunisation against the novel coronavirus.
Since last year, he said, the people of IIOJK have been under two lockdowns – a brutal siege that started on August 5, 2019 and the Covid-19 lockdown. “Indian occupation authorities have now imposed Section 144 and virtual curfew throughout the valley that has crippled peoples’ lives, livelihoods, and businesses.”
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