NEW DELHI: Civil society organisations have written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the poor condition of prisons and quarantine facilities in the state amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The signatories include Amnesty International-India, Alternative Law Forum-Bengaluru, Association for Democratic Rights-Punjab, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights-West Bengal and Prisons Forum-Karnataka, among others.
The “shocking state of affairs” at these facilities was recently flagged by human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, the groups wrote. “Of those accused in this case, nine including Gautam Navlakha and Varvara Rao have been lodged in Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai and two women political prisoners have been lodged at Byculla jail,” the letter said.
The organisations appealed for interim bail or emergency parole for undertrials or convicts who are above 60 years of age and medically vulnerable, irrespective of the offences they are booked under. They also appealed to Thackeray to ensure social distancing norms are implemented inside jails and quarantine facilities. The letter further urged the government to ensure there are regular and effective contacts between inmates, their families and lawyers through phone and videoconferencing until physical meetings start.