THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The murder of a prisoner in the cell of the Medical College Hospital here has brought into sharp focus the ignominious reality existing in the cells (separate rooms where prisoners are treated) across the state, where the prisoners are left to reel in hunger. The amount allotted by the Prison Department, Rs 35 as food allowance per day for an inmate, is not adequate to provide them with even a single meal.
Sreedharan, a 50-plus undertrial, was murdered by a fellow inmate for eating the latter’s food without his permission.
At least a few were of the view that the meagre amount allocated as food allowance for the inmates was inadequate for a single meal and this had forced the deceased to lay his hands on the ‘biriyani’ that resulted in the gruesome murder.
While the ‘able’ prisoners manage to get food with the help of their relatives or friends, the less fortunate are left with no choice but to rely on the food brought by the policemen guarding the cell.
Veteran journalist and civil rights activist B R P Bhaskar told Express that these sorts of human rights violations undermine the basic tenets of democracy. “The inmates admitted to the cells should be treated at least on par with the prisoners in jail. They, in fact, are entitled to a better treatment as their bad health forced them to get admitted to the cells. It is a shame that we haven’t noticed such a human rights violation that is happening right under our nose,” he said.
Civic Chandran, a leading civil rights activist who had undergone imprisonment several times during the Emergency, said that prison reformation takes place at a snail’s pace.
“Denial of food to the inmates is an abomination to the civil society. Prison norms say that health of an inmate should not get deteriorated while he is serving sentence. But things are happening contrary to that,” he said.
South Zone DIG (Prisons) H Gopakumar had earlier admitted that the current allocation was inadequate to meet the expense of food for the inmates. But he declined to divulge more.
Meanwhile, State Human Rights Commission is still not aware of the issue. SHRC Chairman Justice J B Koshy revealed that he had not noticed such an issue. “Once I get a complaint from the rights activists or finds a news item in this regard, I will look into the matter,” he said.