Political Prisoners in Andhra Pradesh on Hunger Strike
The members of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) in Andhra Pradesh along with a number of prominent citizens supported the hunger strike of the political prisoners in the prisons of Andhra Pradesh at a press conference in Hyderabad. They have expressed their deep sense of solidarity with the struggling political prisoners, lifers and other prisoners. Among those who addressed the press conference included civil rights advocate and National President PUCL, K.G. Kannabiran, senior civil rights leader M.T.Khan, revolutionary poets Varavara Rao and Gaddar, Chandranna of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), Prof. Sheshaiah, President, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Prof. Rehana Sultana, President, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC), Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum.
All the speakers asked the government to fulfill immediately the demands of the prisoners on hunger strike. They also expressed their utter dismay and anger on the miserable conditions in which prisoners are kept in Andhra Pradesh. While also condemning the callous attitude of the government of Andhra Pradesh towards prisoners, the speakers warned the administrative authorities to refrain from branding Muslims as ISI agents. The speakers took strong exception of the malicious and criminal intent of the prison authorities in Andhra Pradesh, who insist on the relatives and friends of the prisoners to write ISI or Naxalite prisoner on interview application thus forcing the hapless family members to brand the prisoners failing which their interview is denied.
K.G. Kannabiran while pointing out that the prisoner’s demands is basically democratic warned the government that any delay on its side towards fulfillment of these pleas would precipitate unrest which would lead to revolts inside the prisons. He condemned the authoritarian attitude of the Andhra Pradesh government in this regard. Prof. Sheshaiah, Jeevan Kumar and Prof. Rehana Sultana demanded the immediate release of all lifers especially, Quadeer, Ganesh, Ramesh and Mallesh. Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao pointed out that the government of Andhra Pradesh is violating its own agreement it had reached in 1994-5 along with Kannabiran, M.T. Khan and others in response to the just demands of the struggle of political prisoners at that time. Revolutionary balladeer Gaddar demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
It should be noted that in the historic jail struggle of the political prisoners in 1994-95, poets, artists, intellectuals, civil rights activists and other people’s organizations agitated in solidarity with prisoners. As a result of the public opinion and mounting pressure, the Government of Andhra Pradesh then came to the negotiating table and signed an agreement with the prisoners on strike along with many prominent citizens belonging to civil rights and other democratic organizations. Out of 43 demands of the political prisoners 38 were agreed up on by the government though it implemented only 17 of them. As a result of the agreement about 400 of the total lifers who had served 7 years of imprisonment were released in 1995. But the present Congress regime has even violated all those agreements which were earlier implemented.
The statement signed by Lateef Mohd. Khan, BSA Satyanarayana, Ravindranath and others of the CRPP appealed to the people to express their solidarity by joining and strengthening the struggle. It has expressed its’ solidarity with the prisoners who are on strike for their right to free speech, right to assemble, meetings and for a dignified life and just society. The hunger strike by the political prisoners belonging to the CPI (Maoist) and CPI (ML) (Janashakti) in various prisons in Andhra Pradesh have demanded the release of political prisoners and lifers. The statement recalled the rich historic experiences of struggles for prison reforms by political prisoners during the anti-colonial resistance and the Telangana Peasant Struggle.
Contrary to the media hype of projecting prisons like ‘correctional homes’, ‘judicial custody’ and what not, prisons and prison conditions in Andhra Pradesh are the worst with many prisoners dying due to extremely unhygienic and inhuman conditions.
The statement warned the government that if it fails to fulfill the demands of the political prisoners, the CRPP will build a mass movement and intensify the struggle outside the prisons.