In July 2017, the National Investigation Agency arrested seven Kashmiri separatist leaders in connection with a case of alleged terror funding from Pakistan. Among those arrested was Altaf Ahmad Shah, the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is the leader of the separatist group Tehreek-e-Huriyat. Altaf has been lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail since August 2017. The jail was recently in the news as it is overcrowded, making it a vulnerable space during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May this year, Ruwa Shah, Altaf’s daughter, a media student, wrote that her father has been unwell in jail and is not receiving the medical attention he requires. Her letter is reproduced below.
Every week, my family and I wait for a five-minute-long phone call with my 63-year-old father, Altaf Ahmad Shah, who is a prisoner in Tihar Jail in New Delhi. That is the only opportunity for my mother to hear his voice and renew her hope of seeing him a free man.
She draws sustenance from that short conversation with my father and waits for the next call. He always comforts her during the phone calls and reassures her that this too shall pass. My mother conveys his messages to me and my siblings. We repeat and discuss every word he spoke, seeking meaning and hope.