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Kashmiri pro-freedom leader diagnosed with last-stage cancer in the prison

On 1st October, Kashmiri pro-freedom leader, Altaf Ahmed Shah, was diagnosed with renal cancer that had metastasized and spread to other parts of his body, including his bones. Altaf Ahmed Shah, 65-year-old, is a leader of a prominent pro-freedom organization called Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, and has been incarcerated in Tihar Jail since July 2017. He led the legal cell of the organization and he played a pivotal role in providing assistance and support to the families of Kashmiri political prisoners. According to one of the doctors who spoke to Shah’s family, he is suffering from last-stage cancer. Shah was admitted to the RML (Ram Manohar Lohia) Hospital in Delhi only after weeks of prolonged pain and repeated requests, but the health facility lacks cancer treatment and hence he is not receiving the necessary and urgently required care. According to the family, his health has been declining for two weeks now but the hospital is yet to start treating him for cancer because of the absence of the necessary facilities. The family added that after Shah had complained of severe pain in his left abdomen two weeks ago, he was taken to the jail hospital. The doctor in the jail hospital had advised jail authorities to get an immediate CT scan of his kidney done but jail authorities did not take any action. Shah’s cancer has spread to his vital organs, lungs, abdomen and spine. The PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan that is needed to be done is not available at the hospital where he is currently under custody. According to the family, the doctors in the hospital refuse to speak to them, owing to Shah’s involvement in the Kashmiri freedom movement. Shah’s family has not been allowed to meet him, or see him, even as he lies on his deathbed. Though the family wrote a letter to all concerned authorities, including the Prime Minister of India, he has been denied any relief whatsoever, such as a medical bail or detention in his house instead of the prison.[1]


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