Hunger Strike by Political Prisoners


It has been more than fifteen days since Roopesh, Anoop and Veeramani, political prisoners alleged for their Maoist links, are on Indefinite Hunger Strike at the Coimbatore Central Jail. Prisoners, especially political prisoners are forced to resort to such ends in the prison even to get basic information about the number of cases and the charges under which they have been detained reflects the impunity with which the police violates every law and the fundamental rights that are guaranteed by the constitution. To know how many cases one has been implicated in or the police establishments intend to implicate is a fundamental right under Article 22 (1) of the Constitution. To stress on this demand which is very fundamental is significant as the police has repeatedly violated this with many political prisoners in different states by citing new cases when they are acquitted or released on bail of all previous cases on them. This is increasingly becoming a standard pattern followed by the police of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal especially in cases of alleged Maoist links. Such unconstitutional and undemocratic methods are adopted to ensure that political prisoners never get released from prison, let alone the provision of speedy trial. The blanket denial of rights and further encouragement for the police to indulge in impunity is made possible by such draconian legislations as the UAPA and NSA. The demand of the prisoners to repeal such draconian acts should be supported by all freedom loving people. It is shocking to know that Roopesh was kept in police custody for 49 days continuously when even under UAPA it is 30 days. How torture is used in countries like India as a means to extract confessions from the prisoners especially political prisoners is a fact time and again brought to the light by various civil rights organizations. The provisions for reading and writing for the political prisoner should be immediately granted. And the right to access to lawyers and human rights defenders especially the CRPP which is providing legal aid is a simple demand and it is disturbing to note that for ensuring their constitutionally guaranteed rights the political prisoners are driven to the extreme step of indefinite hunger strike which has critically affected their health.

Despite the hunger strike going on for more than fifteen days (at the time of writing) the authorities have turned a blind eye and had it not been for the lawyers and civil libertarians the plight of the political prisoners would not have reached the larger public. Further the health of Roopesh has severely weakened as he had fallen unconscious at the Coimbatore Central Jail.

It's high time all democratic and freedom loving people join in solidarity to ensure the constitutional and fundamental rights of all political prisoners. Concerned civil society activists urge upon Roopesh, Anoop and Veeramani to discontinue their hunger strike while the demands highlighted by them will be taken up in solidarity by civil libertarians, democratic lawyers, intellectuals, writers, social activists and all those who value and see in this initiative a struggle to enhance the democratic rights of all.

Vol. 48, No. 8, Aug 30 - Sep 5, 2015