Three Indians on fast unto death protest in Nepal jail
Apr 28, 2007 - 9:34:07 AM
Kathmandu, April 28 - At least three Indians are on a fast unto death in a prison in Kathmandu, demanding amnesty from the government of Nepal that has recently freed several Maoist guerrillas jailed for crimes ranging from murder to bombing.
The three - Ajimon Joseph, Amrit Chauhan and Nasim Ansari - have been on hunger strike for 11 days now in the capital's Dillibazar Sadorkhor prison.
There are likely to be some more Indians among the 182 detainees asking the eight-party pro-democracy government of Nepal to grant them general amnesty since the government recently withdrew cases against the Maoist guerrillas and began freeing the rebels.
The protesting Indian detainees have not been visited by any Indian official or leader since they went on hungerstrike.
Besides Indians, the protesting prisoners also include several Pakistanis and Nigerians as well as a Singaporean, American and Chinese.
The men say they should be pardoned since the Maoists, whose crimes were often much more severe, were released following a peace pact signed between the government and the rebels last year.
While some of the freed Maoist prisoners had been charged with murder and violent attacks, most of the foreigners languishing in Nepal's prisons were arrested over drug-related offences, cheating or carrying illegal foreign currency.
While some of the foreigners are serving out sentences, many however are undertrials.
Though they could be found innocent eventually, still they are forced to stay behind bars as Nepal's laws rarely allow bail to foreigners accused of crimes.
This month, the Dillibazar prisoners formed a Prison Action Committee and locked themselves up in a cell, refusing to allow prison officials to come in.
Though senior officials, including the director-general of prisons, visited them and tried to persuade them to call off the protest, they have remained adamant.
A team of Maoist ministers, including Physical Planning and Infrastructure Minister Hisila Yami and Forest Minister Matrika Prasad Yadav were to meet the protesters.
Ironically, Yadav himself had gone on a similar strike last year when he was imprisoned in Kathmandu valley's Nakhu jail, after being arrested in New Delhi and being handed over to the Nepali authorities.
Though Sitaram Yechuri, influential member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, visited Nepal this month and met Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala twice, he did not meet the Indian prisoners.
Earlier, Yechuri had lobbied for the release of Maoists who are being held in Indian prisons.
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