Human rights group demands release of 67-yr-old undertrial prisoner in Kerala

According to rights activists, 67-year-old Ibrahim, an undertrial prisoner who has been booked under UAPA, has been in jail for the past six years without being granted bail.
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Human rights activists and the family of 67-year-old Wayanad native Ibrahim, an undertrial prisoner who has been in jail for six years without getting bail, have demanded his release citing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ibrahim, who has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) suffers from diabetes and heart related ailments and also has difficulty in taking food. Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam, the human rights group which demanded the release, says Ibrahim’s case shows how draconian and anti-democratic UAPA is.

The Kerala government in March had ordered the release of over thousands of prisoners on parole as COVID-19 cases were reported from various prisons in the state. However, no UAPA prisoners were granted parole, said Janakeeya Manushayavakasha Prasthanam. Ibrahim was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2016 in connection with a case of a civil police officer’s motorcycle being set ablaze in Wayanad. The NIA alleges Ibrahim is a member of the CPI(Maoist), a banned outfit.

Ibrahim, who is jailed at Viyyur prison in Thrissur, has not been granted bail for the past six years because he has been booked under the stringent UAPA, activists state. “He is a severe diabetes patient and has heart related ailments. Everyday he takes 22 tablets for his ailments, but still his diabetes is not under control. He has lost most of his teeth and those that were remaining were removed on the recommendation of doctors. Since there is a delay in fixing artificial teeth, he cannot properly take food now. He has lost seven kilos in 10 days after removing his teeth. He is in a very bad condition physically,” said Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam in a statement.

Ibrahim’s wife Jameela has written to the state police chief, asking to immediately release him from prison under humanitarian grounds. In her letter, she states that Ibrahim was booked in two cases - both in connection to the police officer’s bike being set ablaze. However, Ibrahim was acquitted in one case by the Kozhikode Sessions Court earlier this year. On Wednesday, Jameela also wrote to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, asking to grant him bail. 

“Since the second wave of COVID-19 is surging and experts have cited a chance for the third wave of the pandemic, it is likely that trial of his case will be delayed again. There are concerns about his life amid this pandemic. When those who indulge in heinous crime easily get bail and parole here, we should remember this injustice,” said CP Rasheed, state secretary of Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam.

Ibrahim was a popular leader during the massive protests held in the late 90’s in Wayanad, against the eviction of workers of the Harrison Malayalam Plantation. He is being hunted for his social and class consciousness, the rights group added. “It is unjust that such a social worker who for decades worked for the rights of the poor plantation workers is being treated in an anti-democratic way,” the rights group said.

Prominent writer and social activists including, feminist historian and social commentator J Devika, poet K Satchidanandan, Dalit activist Sunny M Kapicad and writer Kalpatta Narayanan, poet Meena Kandasamy, among others, also wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging the release of Ibrahim. "We request there should be the timely intervention in Ibrahim's case as you did in the case of Siddique Kappan (Kerala journalist charged with UAPA in Uttar Pradesh) and Hany Babu (Academician jailed in Elgar Parishad case)," the letter stated.

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