An indefinite hunger strike by undertrials at a Kolkata jail, who are demanding rights as political prisoners, is likely to spread to other jails in the city as undertrials facing similar charges have expressed their support. Rights activists said on Wednesday that a number of political prisoners in jails across West Bengal could join the protest. The hunger strike, which started with 30 political prisoners at the Presidency Jail on September 1, will get support from 12 others at Dum Dum Central Jail from Thursday.
Almost all the undertrials on hunger strike were those arrested over the last few years for having Maoist links and face charges of sedition and anti-national activities, including some booked under the dreaded Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. While jail authorities have refused to comment on the matter, rights activists alleged these inmates were not being allowed to meet family and friends, not being given newspapers or pen and paper to write letters. “They first sat for a token hunger strike on August 29. The strike will continue till authorities accept their demands,” said rights activist Sujato Bhadra. Bhadra further said the inmates have been confined to a cell since they went on hunger strike.
“Prison authorities insist there can be no discussion till the strike is withdrawn. The inmates have refused to end the strike till authorities pay heed to their demands. The protesters include alleged Maoist leaders Gaur Chakraborty and Sadanala Ramakrishna, both ailing and elderly,” he said.