More than 700 prisoners, including women and Muslims in Indore jails, are observing Navratri fast to seek divine pardon for their crimes and sins, an official said on Friday.
The jail authorities, however, are taking precautions following a shooting inside the central jail--the most populated jail in the state--last year when a prisoner was shot dead by a fellow inmate during the nine-day fasting.
The jail authorities have decided to restrict the celebrations within the barracks instead of the chowk or the open space within the jail, said superintendent of Indore central jail Sanjay Pandey.
“According to the Prison Act 1894 and the Jail Manual1968, inmates are allowed to celebrate religious ritual,” he said.
“There are 475 inmates in the central jail and 250, including 40 women prisoners from district jail, who are observing the nine-day fast. Not only Hindus, but several Muslim inmates are observing the fast.”
He said three Muslim prisoners, including two male and a female are not only observing Navratri fast but are also participating in the prayers to goddess Durga.
“Several Hindu prisoners also observe fast during the holy month of Ramzan, which sets a perfect example of communal harmony.
“It’s really surprising to see the faith of these prisoners, most of whom are serving sentences for serious crimes like murder, kidnapping and rape, he added.
On September 4, 2014, Arjun Tyagi, an accused in a murder case, was shot dead by a fellow inmate Jitendra Singh. Two other prisoners injured in the shooting.
However, restrictions have not dampened the spirit of the inmates as they are celebrating the festival by getting up early in the morning, fasting, singing hymns and offering prayers, said Pandey.
“The fasting prisoners are given special diet which includes boiled potatoes, bananas and sago khichari. We have a food committee in the jail comprising of inmates and a monitoring officer, who decide the menu,” Pandey added.