Coronavirus: Asaram, Prisoners at Jodhpur Central Jail Go on Hunger Strike Demanding Release

New Delhi: Inmates of Jodhpur Central Jail on Tuesday went on a hunger strike demanding they be released as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the nation. Among the prominent names imprisoned here are Asaram Bapu and former minister Mahipal Maderna, who is an accused in the Bhanwari Devi kidnapping and murder case.

Asaram is lodged at the central jail in connection with the rape case of a teenager

The inmates put forth their demands to the jail administration as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and the chief justice of the Rajasthan High Court.

In their letter, the inmates cited Section 144 of the CrPC, which is being invoked at some places to prevent any gathering of more than four people to stop the virus from spreading.

Instead, the jail has too many people crammed in a single barrack, the inmates said. The letter alleged that the jail did not have adequate medical facilities and the guards could bring in the virus.

The inmates had warned in their letter that they would begin a protest if they are not released on bail or parole.

While jail authorities cooked food on Tuesday morning, no inmate ate it and instead demanded their release. The state government has asked the authorities to provide more information on this, following which the latter prepared a list of such prisoners who can be let out on parole. This list will be sent ahead to the state government, which will then decide on who will be paroled and who let out.

Jail Superintendent Kailash Trivedi confirmed that the protest was on but called it an attempt by the inmates to get out of prison on the pretext of the virus outbreak.

Trivedi said the prison had adequate medical facilities and doctors were keeping a close watch on the inmates' health, particularly because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Trivedi said the measures being taken now included screening of every outsider entering the premises, which have been fumigated. He said the jail had a capacity of 1,475 and the present head count is only 1,350.