BHUBANESWAR: The hunger strike staged by seven undertrial prisoners (UTPs) involved in Maoist violence cases entered its fourth day at the Special Jail in Jharpada here demanding early trial of their cases.
The agitating UTPs include dreaded criminal Dunna Keshava Rao alias Azad. In his letter to the State Government, Azad has alleged inordinate delay in his trial which has not begun even five years after his arrest.
Azad was arrested in 2011 for his alleged involvement in Maoist activities. Azad claimed that the charges slapped against him are false and termed his imprisonment as a violation of his fundamental rights.
His other demands included filing of case and subsequent appearance in court within six months of arrest, refrain from re-arrest after acquittal by a court or sanction of bail and granting political prisoner status.
Meanwhile, Azad’s mother, who had come to meet him in the jail, was not permitted by the prison authorities. Six other UTPs facing similar charges also joined Azad while at least 12 inmates of various jails across the State have lent their support.
Azad also submitted a memorandum to the State Government through the Jail Superintendent. He faces trial in 12 cases and this is the third time when Azad resorted to a hunger strike.
The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has sought a report from ADG (Prisons) on the matter.
A senior official of the Prisons Department said the inmates on strike are hardcore Maoists involved in killing of Swami Lakshmananda and policemen in Jharkhand. “In many cases, part conviction has been done and other cases are under trial. So we are not empowered to take a call on expediting their trial. If required, we will seek medical help to feed the prisoners who are on hunger strike,” he said.