Trouble is brewing in Sabarmati jail in Gujarat, where over 70 per cent of the inmates have gone on a hunger strike, to protest the alleged atrocities by jail authorities.
A public interest litigation, filed by the Jan Sangharsh Manch in the Gujarat High Court, has sought the removal of Jail Superintendent V Chandrashekhar.
The PIL, filed on behalf of several prisoners, alleges that Chandrashekhar committed several atrocities, including denying permission to inmates to meet their family members.
Complaints of torture and ill-treatment have increased during his tenure, claims the PIL filed on March 26. Incidentally, Chandrashekar has been on leave from March 24.
Instead of putting the deputy superintendent in charge of the prison, the government has some else as superintendent on Special Charge.
The manch has sought the immediate transfer of Chandrashekhar. The PIL claims that Yunus Sareswala, an inmate, was not allowed to meet his ailing mother on March 25. This led to skirmishes between the inmate, the jailor and other guards.
Later that afternoon, several accused booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act went on a hunger strike, demanding the removal of the superintendent. Inmates arrested in connection with the Ahmedabad serial blasts also joined the hunger strike on the same day.
On March 26, the POTA court sent a public prosecutor and defense lawyer to undertake the panchnama regarding the incident. The order on the panchnama remains pending till date, alleges the PIL.
It claims that Yunus Sareswala and some other prisoners were reportedly beaten up by the police inside the prison. This led to further protests and over 70 per cent of the inmates joined the hunger strike.
On March 27, an application was filed at the POTA court on behalf of the prisoners, stating that some of them feared for their lives and could be targeted by policemen.
On the same day, the kholi where the POTA accused were lodged was cleared up and the inmates were shifted to other barracks. The prisoners continue to be on a hunger strike and are now protesting the order that forbids them from meeting their family members.
Mukul Sinha, advocate for the petitioner, told rediff.com that the court has ordered that the matter be placed before it and taken up urgently. He also said that apart from seeking the transfer of the jail superintendent, they have also sought the appointment of a court commission, to inquire into the alleged atrocities committed by the jail authorities.