CAGED BEHIND BARS: Inquiry in to the hunger strike 13 undertrial prisoners of Nagpur Central Prison protesting victimization of political activities

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 This is the report of a joint enquiry by some civil liberties and democratic rights (CL & DR) groups into the hunger strike of thirteen under trial prisoners in Nagpur Central Jail in April-May 2008  protesting victimization of political activists. The investigation was also undertaken in the context of the Maharashtra state instructing universities to be watchful of students with suspected Maoist leaning. Though repeatedly obstructed from visiting the jail and interviewing the striking prisoners to ascertain the truth, the team’s investigation revealed that the prisoners’ rights were indeed being violated. Political prisoners in particular were being meted out unequal treatment, denied information, adequate legal assistance and medical facilities, and were also being wrongfully kept in solitary confinement. They were being harassed in these and other multiple ways on a daily basis. The complicity of the entire state and administrative machinery from prison officials to the judiciary was evident. The report laments the denial of constitutionally guaranteed rights to persons who become branded as anti-state terrorists on the basis of their real or suspected political views.

Key words- political prisoners, prison conditions, democratic rights, political dissent, prison manual, punishment, UAPA.