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India: Prisoners on Hunger Strike against POTA

2. September 2004

Condition of Six Deteriorates, Three women Prisoners Admitted in Hospital

In Tamilnadu ten prisoners are on hunger strike demanding the repeal of POTA. Seven of them are in the Central Prison, Chennai while three are women prisoners who are lodged in Vellore Special Prison for Women. All the ten of them are on an indefinite hunger strike since August 26, 2004. On September 2, 2004 the condition of three women prisoners deteriorated and they are now taken to the Vellore General Hospital for treatment. These prisoners are steadfast in their struggle and have refused to take any medicine or food till their demand is met. The latest news about them is that these women prisoners have become unconsciousness. The condition of three male prisoners in the Chennai Central Jail is also getting worse.

These prisoners are from a group of twenty seven who were arrested under POTA on 24.11.2002 near Uthangarai in Tamilnadu. Since then they are in the jail under this draconian act not trial has yet begun even after the lapse of almost two years. Even their bail pleas are pending in the Madras High Court. These 27 people were arrested when they were attending a political class. The police had even killed one of them in a false encounter after taking him in custody. All these prisoners adhere to the ideology of Naxalites.

The demand of these political prisoners to repeal POTA is a just demand. Even when the Central government has allowed to lapse POTA they are being kept under the provisions of this lapsed law. The health of these prisoners is a matter of concern for all the democratic and justice loving people. Inside the jail walls hunger strike is considered as a highest form of peaceful struggle. The demand and struggle of these prisoners should be supported and solidarity be expressed with them. Since the POTA cases were reviewed and people like Vaiko were released after withdrawing cases against them these prisoners are being kept behind bars. These Naxalite prisoners should be given justice in the same way as other political prisoners are given and there should be no discrimination.
We appeal to all democratic and justice loving forces to stand in solidarity with these prisoners and to come in support of their demand to repeal POTA. We demand that the government should repeal POTA at the earliest so that the lives of these prisoners are saved.

(All India Peoples Resistance Forum)

the names of the ten prisoners who are on hunger strike

Reena Joyce Mary, Reeta Mary, Uma Anandhi (Vellore Special Prison For Women, now all the three in Vellore General Hospital)

Manivasagam, Vnayagam, Thangapandian, Sathish Kumar, Sakthivel, Suresh, and, Muthu (Chennai Central Prison)