Political Prisoners

Ghandy on death fast in Tihar against ‘harassment’

Ghandy_TH_2426906eIn his six years of detention, Kobad Ghandy, an undertrial prisoner in the Tihar jail, accused of being affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), wrote 12 letters to the jail authorities, pleading with them to stop treating him as a criminal and provide him decent conditions. But Ghandy, 68, was tossed between cells — from jail no. 3 to 1 and 2 and back to 3. A few weeks ago, he was moved to jail no. 8. Tired of what he called “harassment”, he went on an indefinite fast on May 30. His lawyers filed a petition in a court here, which will hear it on Friday. Nursing a series of ailments such as hypertension, arthritis, spondylitis, prostrate problems, irritable bowel syndrome and kidney and heart disease, Kobad Ghandy, an undertrial prisoner in the Tihar jail, says his health does not allow him to pack his bags and move between different cells as the authorities have been making him do.
In a handwritten press statement, Ghandy described this treatment as “a method of harassment”, which he thinks is aimed at destroying his health. Two weeks ago, Ghandy told Rona Wilson, an activist with the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, who often visits him in Tihar, that poor living conditions and lack of medical attention were slowly pushing him to death. “He is a political prisoner,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s unfortunate that the prison officers have been mistreating him for so long.” In September 2009, Ghandy was arrested while he was being treated for a kidney ailment in south Delhi. He is accused of being a Maoist ideologue. “But the state is unable to prove any charge against him,” Mr. Wilson said.
“Being a follower of a political thought doesn’t mean you are inflicting violence on the state.” A senior official of the Tihar jail told The Hindu that Ghandy came in as a “high-risk prisoner and he continues to be a high-risk prisoner.” The officer ruled out the possibility of moving Ghandy to a better prison facility. “He has been a model inmate since being lodged in Tihar, but prison rules have to be followed,” the officer said. “These state that he must be treated as per guidelines pertaining to the treatment of high-risk prisoners which are being followed as closely as they are in relation to other inmates categorised as high-risk prisoners.” A source close to Ghandy said his trial had been a protracted one because investigating officials “were used to skipping court dates citing one reason or the other”.
Meanwhile, the source said, his legal representatives had moved an application for shifting him to the senior citizens’ ward which had been listed for hearing at a court on Friday. Tihar authorities denied receiving any summons. “We will take a call on how to respond in the matter when we receive directions to do so,” an official said.


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