Muzaffar Ahmed Rather, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) member on death row has started hunger strike in Dumdum jail demanding TV set, a proper bed, TV, newspapers and better food. He refused to take food since March 6 and was shifted to the jail hospital the next day as he became weak.
Thirty-year old Rather was one of the three who were handed out capital punishment on January 22 this year, and was since then lodged in solitary confinement in a ‘condemned’ cell in Dumdum Central Jail.
Incidentally, Maoists are known to resort to hunger strikes in jails to press for their demands. Jihadists take to it only rarely.
“The death row convict has gone on hunger strike for the past three days. But facilities such as TV sets can only be given with permission from higher authorities of the state jail department. We are requesting him to withdraw the fast,” said a senior jail department official.
“As a condemned prisoner the petitioner has the rights and facilities of division 1 prisoner and has requested the jail officials many times in this regard. For his physical and mental health and wellness he requested for better food, mattress and pillow, daily news paper and a TV set either provided by jail authorities or on his own expenses. And in response got nothing but only tasteless food, which is served to patients..,” read Rather’s petition.
Arrested in 2007, Rather has spent over 10 years behind the bars. Incidentally, the other two who were also given death sentence -- Mohammed Younus and Abdullah -- were terrorists from Pakistan.
Rather hails from Anantnag in Kashmir. A fast track court in North 24 Parganas district gave him capital punishment.
The jail official told HT that Rather was given the same food that was meant for all prisoners in the jail. He also pointed out that the other two convicts Mohammed Younus and Abdullah had no problem with it.
In April 2007 Border Security Force personnel arrested four persons trying to enter India through the Bangladesh border at Petrapole in North 24 Parganas district. Two of them were Pakistanis, while two were Indians. Later they were charged with sections relating to ‘waging war against the state’.
The fourth person was Abdul Nayeem Karim alias Sheikh Sameer who was a resident of Maharastra. He later managed to escape when he was being taken to Mumbai in connection with the Aurangabad Arms Haul case.
“They had plans to attack army camps in Jammu and Kashmir, but before they could carry it out they were caught by BSF and handed over to Bangaon police station,” an officer of Bengal police said after the conviction in January.