IN ORDER THAT THE DEAF GOVERNMENT HEAR, 11 TRIBAL WOMEN PRISONERS OBSERVE A DAY OF HUNGER STIKE!*
On 13th December 2012, eleven tribal women political prisoners will be observing a one day hunger strike for the implementation of various demands including the central demand that the Gadchiroli district prison be opened despite over two years since its completed construction.
The series of atrocities by the Maharashtra government goes unabated, without any rectification despite numerous democratic protests and hunger stikes. Hence, during the winter session of the State legislative at Nagpur we are observing a one day long hunger strike for the deaf government to hear.
In the press note issued by the tribal women political prisoners they have made their position clear. It has been over two years since the construction of the Gadchiroli district prison and news of its opening within a few months has been published in the newspapers. The post of Guardian Minister of our Gadchiroli district is with Hon’ble Shri. R. R. Patil and affairs related to the prison are also handled by his (home) departed. Nevertheless there has been a failure to start functioning of the Gadchiroli prison despite over two years having lapsed. The newspapers have also carried news that materials worth almost Rs. 40 lacs have been stolen from the premises. If not the government, this question is of great value for us because by imprisoning us at Nagpur and other prisons our relations with our families and lawyers have been totally cut off. Besides, our constitutional right to be produced before the court during trial has been violated since the last 23 months causing us severe mental disturbance. We urge our guardian minister R. R. Patil to consider this grave situation and declare the Gadchiroli prison be opened within a fixed time.
On 1st April 2012, while replying to a question raised by Shobhatai Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party, State Home minister R. R. Patil informed the Legislative Council that the government has decided to investigate the cases of tribal youth imprisoned at the Nagpur prison. However it has been over a year and a half without any action in this regard. It would mean that the home minister made this empty promise only to silence the opposition. The arrests of innocents, like us has begun under his patronage ever since he has become the gadchiroli district guardian minister. On one hand, he has declared that he will not tolerate injustice on innocents to gather the sympathy of tribals and on the other; a cruel repression is being unleashed against the tribals. We call upon him to end this mockery and declare in this legislative session whether a commission for investigation has been appointed as promised.
Likewise since January 2011, the production of the Gadchiroli undertrials before the session’s court has come to a complete halt. There had been an attempt to conduct trials through video conferencing. However due to regular technical problems it never functioned smoothly. And now since March 2012, this mechanism too has come to an end. It is the total violation of the constitutional right of an undertrial not to be produced before the trial court. Our demands are not excessive. We merely demand that the government fulfill its minimum obligations of producing us before the court and that our endless trials be conducted speedily. The Union minister Jairam Ramesh has declared the central government has decided to conduct trials of tribals by setting up fast track courts. R. R. Patil too caught to and upheld this declaration. However rather than making new declarations the Maharashtra government ought to try to ensure the regular and speedy functioning of existing courts, so as to clear obstacles of us approaching them.
The practice of re-arresting persons acquitted after a prolonged legal battle has become the rule. The police do not show the intelligence to arrest the person in a new case when in prison or when in police custody. However after the person is acquitted and released, the police have the ‘wisdom’ to re-arrest the person at the gate. The police by dutifully doing this to inflate the number of arrests without any consideration of the violations of the prisoners human rights. This practice of re-arrest is shameful for a ‘democratic’ government. Hence we call upon the home minister to immediately put and end to this practice of re-arrest.
The home minister very well knows that all the charges leveled on us are false. Hence the government has employed a policy to conduct trials at snails pace, totally end the production of undertrials in court and the practice of re-arrest- all steps undertaken to make us rot in prison for maximum possible time. To keep illiterate and poor tribal youth away from justice and to see to it that they only get delayed justice is a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed human rights. Hence we take this opportunity to humbly appeal to all democratic and justice loving people and the peoples’ representatives to raise their voices in our support.
Saguna Pungati (Raji Reddy)- sd/-
Sunanda Bhovate- sd/-
Place: Nagpur Central Prison, Nagpur.
* This is a rough translation of the press note sent by the prisoners in marathi.
- Press Release- Serial Hunger strike by 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison. #Humanrightsday (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #Mumbai-Women cops were molested, admits R R Patil #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)