The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday decided to set free about 4,000 prisoners and under-trials with immediate effect to mark the anniversary of Chief Minister Mayawati's election to the office for the first time 12 years ago.
The decision, taken by the state cabinet, would set free all male prisoners above the age of 66 and female prisoners above 62 years, who had completed half their jail terms on the cut-off date, June 3, 2007.
Moreover, all those prisoners suffering from terminal diseases would also be released.
The relief would, however, not be admissible to murder convicts.
"The decision was taken to commemorate my first installation as chief minister of the state on June 3, 1995," Mayawati told a luncheon press conference here.
The turning point in Mayawati's political career had come after an assault on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators by members of Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party on June 2, 1995 at the state guesthouse in Lucknow.
Mulayam had lost power that day after Mayawati withdrew the BSP support.
During the attack, she saved herself by taking refuge in a bolted suite of the guesthouse, but most of her party workers were beaten badly, while cops looked the other way.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) making a surprise move to extend support to her, Mayawati became chief minister for the first time on June 3, 1995. Two more stints followed in alliance with the BJP before she assumed the office for the fourth time last month - this time entirely on her own strength.
"The order was issued under certain existing provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Uttar Pradesh Jails Manual," the chief minister said.
"Of course, the track record of the prisoners would be scrutinized in all such cases and certified good behaviour would remain an essential factor for their release," she added.