An Associate of activist Sudha Bharadwaj — an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case currently lodged in Pune’s Yerawada prison — has claimed that jail authorities prevented her from providing books to Bharadwaj as per the rules.
Bharadwaj was arrested by the Pune City Police last year for her alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoists and has been in the women’s jail in Yerwada since then.
Ahead of Bharadwaj’s birthday on November 1, activist and lawyer Shalini Gera went to meet her in jail on Thursday. Gera told The Indian Express that she had carried two books for Bharadwaj but was not allowed to give them to her.
“I do not know the name of the jail official… She said the authorities were already allowing Bharadwaj and Shoma Sen (another accused) access to two books… I had got two books for Sudha — John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Eric Hobsbawm’s Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism. The jail official took the books from me, and then returned them. She told me that I should get the court’s permission to give books to Sudha,” said Gera, an activist from Chhattisgarh and an office-bearer of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Bharadwaj is also an office-bearer of PUCL and used to work in Chhattisgarh.
Bharadwaj’s lawyer Rahul Deshmukh said the court had already said books could be provided to her according to the rules, and he saw no reason why these were denied. “Recently, the court passed an order on the application that books should be provided to her as per the jail manual. So, I see there is no problem in giving books to Bharadwaj. Jail officials should have accepted the books given by the visitor and provided it to Bharadwaj after scrutiny,” said Deshmukh.
Yerwada Jail Suprintendent U T Pawar was not available for comment. Director General of Prisons Sunil Ramanand said he would look into the matter.