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Naeem Akhtar found unconscious in sub-jail room, hospitalised

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar, 68, was found unconscious in a sub-jail room in Srinagar and was shifted to a hospital.

His family has accused the administration of “maltreatment” and “prolonged detention without any case”.

“A senior police officer was kind enough to inform me around midnight that my father was in hospital after he was found unconscious for 40 minutes. He was saved by a whisker. I am grateful to his fellow detainees,” Mr. Akhtar’s daughter Shehryar Khanum told The Hindu.

She said it’s shocking there was no doctor available to attend to him in the sub-jail of MLA Hostel. “What if it was a heart attack? Earlier, my father was kept in solitary confinement in a 45-room building, just to intimidate,” she added.

Mr. Akhtar, close to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, was first detained in August 2019 and later booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), and released in June last year after 10 months of detention. He was again arrested in December last year under Sections 107 and 151, with the authorities fearing “breach of public order”, just ahead of counting of votes for the District Development Council.

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The family claimed Mr. Akhtar, who has a heart condition, was detained without them being handed over any order till date.

“Every doctor with a degree and experience that I spoke to about my father’s condition is baffled at the need to keep a 68-year-old man with acute cardiac history in sub zero temperatures in a place that is not home,” Ms. Khanum said.

Sources said Mr. Akhtar was shifted to the Khyber Hospital. “He was admitted in the ICU and is under observation, but stable,” a doctor said.

The family said it is facing “ill treatment” and “humiliation” at the hands of administration.

Sources said the family wrote a formal application to Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, last week and sought his help to allow Mr. Akhtar to meet his ailing wife in the hospital but the same was denied.

“I did approach the district magistrate to allow my father to meet his wife, who was also admitted under serious conditions but the same was denied. It seems the administration is working above law and my father is being treated as a hardened criminal,” Mr. Akhtar’s daughter said.

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Meanwhile, hospital sources said the Srinagar administration had launched an inquiry to find out if Mr. Akhtar’s wife was ill or feigning it.

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