After strike, govt allows ’08 blasts accused to step out of barracks

The blast accused had threatened to commit suicide if their demands were not fulfilled.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:October 23, 2014 3:59 am
jail-l The move came a week after the blasts accused sat on a hunger strike asking for changes of their barracks and confinements in dark cells of Sabarmati Central Jail.

The state government has decided to allow the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts accused, also booked in Sabarmati jailbreak bid case, to move outside their barracks under strict supervision of jailors and guards. The move came a week after the blasts accused sat on a hunger strike asking for changes of their barracks and confinements in dark cells of Sabarmati Central Jail.

When the strike of the blasts accused continued for more than five days, the prisons department had written to the state government asking for a solution. The blast accused, including those chargesheeted in the Sabarmati tunnel digging case by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch, had threatened to commit suicide if their demands were not fulfilled.

They went on hunger strike on October 15 after complaining to the city court through their advocate. The prison authorities, who initially took the threat as “just a rebellious attempt”, jumped to action on Tuesday and wrote a letter to the state Home Department.

Superintendent of Jails R S Bhagora said, “The blast accused first placed the demand through the advocate that they want to step out of the barracks to get sunlight and be allowed to walk in the lobbies for a while. They also demanded that they should be allowed to study and get their degrees, entitled to library and other activities. However, we had stopped all that including their admission for distance education after they made gross misuse of the facilities during the tunnel digging case. We tried to resolve the matter in the initial three days. However, they went on hunger strike.”

However, the prisons department officials deployed a team of doctors and medical experts in the jail to ensure that the health of the blasts accused didn’t deteriorate.

ACS Home S K Nanda said, “We have met one of their demands that the blasts accused should be allowed to go out of their barracks once a day, but under strict supervision of jailors and guards. They should be allowed to go in batches of two to three and no crowding would be allowed anywhere in the premises.”

The sources said that during jailor P K Palat’s visit to the barracks of the blasts accused, one of the accused, Mohmmad Sami Bagwada, told him that he wanted to move out of the barrack in the lobby for a walk. When he refused, Bagwada told Palat to inform the senior officers that the blasts accused would go on hunger strike to oppose this “torture” of prison officials and even commit suicide if any decision was not taken soon.

Later Palat had registered a case against the 21 blasts accused for threatening to commit suicide.

The prisons authorities had shifted the blasts accused to new cells made for hardened criminals inside the Sabarmati Central Jail after the tunnel digging case came to the fore in February, 2013.

The prisons authorities had stopped allowing the accused to move outside their new barracks that are now under CCTV surveillance. They were also not allowed to enrol into new courses for distance education and allowed to borrow only religious books from the library in jail.

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