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The Kashmiri Man Behind Bars for 31 years


Dr. Muhammad Qasim, also known as Ashiq Hussain, born in 1967, in Srinagar, is a Kashmiri scholar, pro-liberation freedom fighter, and a resistance leader. He is known as one of the foremost organic intellectuals of Kashmiri resistance movement. He was part of various pro-freedom resistance groups. In 1987, he joined the uprising against the Indian state as a writer and scholar. 

Imprisonment and Case-History

He was first jailed in 1993 under the colonial Public Safety Act, an Act that the Indian state uses systematically to detain Kashmiris arbitrarily for prolonged periods. During detention, he was subjected to third-degree torture and made to sign a blank paper. The paper was changed into a confessional statement for a crime he never committed, on the basis of which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The imprisonment was first set at 14 years, but later, in 2012, as an act of political vendetta, interpreted to mean “imprisonment till death”. He was briefly released in 1999 on bail but was rearrested within a few months in 2000. Qasim faced trial before the TADA Court, Jammu, and after completion of the trial, he was acquitted in 2001 in the false case in which he had been incriminated, under the following observation: “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove the case against the accused persons.” Despite the acquittal, he was not released and the state appealed against the said judgment before the Apex Court and the acquittal order of TADA court was set aside by the Apex Court and Qasim’s life imprisonment was upheld. 

On completing his 14 years in prison in 2008, the High court of Jammu and Kashmir directed the jail authorities to place his case before the Review Board. The Review Board while taking into consideration all aspects of the case recommended his immediate release. The government rejected those recommendations, becoming the only Kashmiri political prisoner whose release-recommendation by the Review Board has been rejected by the state.

He has spent the last 31 years (1993-2024) of his life in prison, and the last six years (2018-2024) in solitary confinement. He was initially jailed at Papa-II torture center in 1993, for over a year, and then shifted to Central Jail, Srinagar. He was shifted from Srinagar to Udhampur Jail in 2018. There was a stay order issued by the High Court against shifting him from Srinagar Central Jail. The Supreme Court, when sentencing Dr. Qasim for life, had clearly stated in the last line of the verdict that he should be lodged in a jail near his home and yet he was shifted to a jail miles away from his home. In 2024, he was shifted from Udhampur farther away to Haryana Jail, and ever since, he has been inaccessible for his family. He is not allowed to communicate with them, nor is he allowed to write letters to his children. He is not allowed now to possess pen, paper, or books, a deprivation that the Indian state deliberately inflicted upon him knowing his love and need for writing and reading.


In prison, he completed his PhD and authored many books during his imprisonment. He writes on the themes of religion, political theory, and Kashmir’s history and colonialism. He has also written tafsīr (exegesis) of the Quran’s final chapter. His PhD thesis is on the topic of the status of Sunnah (Prophetic Way) in Islamic jurisprudence. He has written over 20 books in English and Urdu. One of his books, called Baang, is well-known for its percipient and farsighted critique of India’s settler-colonial project in Kashmir, years before it became so manifest for everyone to see. He spent his time in prison teaching hundreds of fellow inmates and helping them graduate. 


Dr. Qasim has been married to Asiya Andrabi for over three decades, and they have only spent around 2 to 3 years together. Currently, his wife is also in prison in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail for her pro-freedom advocacy work. She has been in prison since 2018, and overall has spent more than 15 years of her life intermittently in different prisons. 


Dr. Qasim suffers from acute glaucoma, for which he needs urgent surgery, which he has been denied. He has partially lost his eyesight. The physical torture he has experienced has also led to severe back ailments. In the past, he has been provided with food that contained glass shards, that resulted in severe intestinal ulcers. 

Further details can be found in Dr. Qasim’s work called The Crito, which documents his entire legal history. Here.

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