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500 individuals plea to Maharashtra CM: Shift 11 activists out of life threatening jails

By Our Representative
More than 500 individuals, including activists, academics, lawyers and students, have endorsed a petition to Chief Minister Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray seeking the release of all Bhima Koregaon accused activists amidst Covid-19 pandemic -- Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj Varavara Rao Dr Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.
Citing Article 21, which guarantees protection of life and personal liberty to every individual, a statement attached with the petition says, these activists, incarcerated under the “draconian” Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) since 2018 in Maharashtra jails, “are at grave risk due to the delay and dragging of cases since the last 24 months.”
“Even after the pandemic outbreak, social distancing norms were not followed in prison and neither were the inmates informed when the first inmate tested positive”, the statement says, wondering, “While inmates are told by authorities in Mumbai to maintain social distancing, in an overcrowded prison, which has a capacity of 804 but houses 2,800 prisoners whom are they kidding?”
Given this framework, the petition appeals to Thackeray “to temporarily shift them out of precarious life threatening conditions, and place them under house arrest, or release them on interim bail so that they will continue to be available to the courts”, insisting, he must at do it “before it is too late, given that most of them are senior citizens and all of them have comorbid conditions and with a constant threat of exposure to positive undetected cases in prison.”

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