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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prisoners demand voting rights in West Bengal

Prisoners demand voting rights in West Bengal

KOLKATA, April 27, 2011

By Ananya Dutta

On the day of the crucial third phase of the Assembly Elections in West Bengal a number of inmates of the three Central Jails in the city observed a day-long huger strike demanding that they be given the right to vote.

Prisoner of the Presidency Correctional Home, the Alipore Central Correctional Home and the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home observed a fast on Wednesday in protest against the law that denies them the right to vote while they are in custody, B.D. Sharma, the State's Additional Director-General and Inspector-General of Correctional Services told The Hindu.


“They have submitted memorandums to me addressed to President Pratibha Patil in which they have asked that they be allowed to vote,” Mr. Sharma said, adding that he will be forwarding the documents to the office of the President.

The prisoners pointed out that about 70 percent of the inmates in most prisons are under-trials, who are denied their “sacred democratic right” despite the fact that their guilt has not been established.

“Secondly, the approach towards prisons has shifted from that of punishing offenders towards ensuring reform. Convicted prisoners and their family members are also tax-payers and should be a part of the democratic process,” Mr. Sharma said.

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