At Tihar jail, 150 Hindu prisoners observe roza in solidarity with Muslim inmates
At least 150 Hindu prisoners are observing Roza (fasting) inside Tihar jail, a senior prison officer said. Jail officers said the number of Hindu prisoners who are fasting has increased this year.
Last year, 59 Hindu prisoners kept the month-long fast.
“Of the 16,665 prisoners spread across different jails of Tihar, at least 2,658 prisoners — that include both Hindus and Muslims — are observing Roza. We have made special arrangements for them. This year, the number of Hindu inmates fasting has increased to thrice the number compared to last year,” said a jail spokesperson.
In the first week of May, most Hindu prisoners lodged in different jails met their respective jail superintendents and informed them that they, too, would fast during Ramzan. The jail superintendents were, at the time, taking a headcount of the prisoners observing Roza to make the arrangements.
Jail officers said the Hindu prisoners gave different reasons why they were observing the fast. “Most of them said they were doing it in solidarity for their Muslim friends. Maybe they did not want to admit that they are turning to religion after coming to prison. We have observed that 80%-90% of inmates become religious inside prison. Religion is a way of finding peace. A few said they believe they could be released early if they pray to God,” a senior jail officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
Another jail officer said every year they see a similar trend during Navratri — the nine-day Hindu festival. During Navratri, a large number of Muslim prisoners fast with the Hindu inmates. “ This is common not only in Tihar but across other prisons as well,” said the jail officer.
For this year’s Ramzan, prison officials have made special arrangements such as allowing religious heads to come to the prison and pray with the inmates. The jail administration has also stocked dates and rooafza- commonly taken by those fasting in Ramzan—which can be bought from the jail canteen.