By Sagar Tatyaram Gorakhe
Honourable Home Minister,
State of Maharashtra,
Home Department, Mantralaya
Hunger Strike unto death against the harassment from Taloja Central Jail’s apathetic administration.
I, Sagar Tatyaram Gorakhe, am a Political Prisoner under the Elgar Parishad Bhima Koregao Case, and have been locked up in the Taloja Central Jail since September 2020. It is with extreme distress that I inform you that since the very beginning the prison administration has treated the Bhima Koregao Case accused with utmost prejudice. As a result, the prison has become a torture camp for my co-accused and me. As you must be aware that it was the maltreatment by the prison administration that led to the custodial death of Father Stan Swami last year. Even today our basic human rights are being trampled over every day in the prison. It is because the situation has become absolutely unbearable that I must resort to an agonising hunger strike in protest. That I must recount these atrocities as we approach the one-year death anniversary of Father Stan Swami is particularly distressing. Even though I am suffering from several illnesses such as backpain, joint pain, and skin allergies I am deliberately denied treatment from the prison medical officials. The prison Superintendent in alliance with the medical officials are obstructing access to medical care. Hence, I am in great pain. Even though the court has made clear its orders regarding access to medical services from external hospitals the superintendent and medical officials resort to arbitrary decision-making. My co-accused Gautam Navlakha, Ramesh Gaychor, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Anand Teltumbade, and Hany Babu are also afflicted with various illnesses and there has been intentional negligence in their treatment. The medicines (especially ayurvedic) provided by lawyers and families are not being accepted creating an overall state of helplessness.
Demand No. 1: Please provide me and my co-accused from the Elgar Parishad Case with immediate medical services and take action against the medical officials for negligence in duty.
Every letter sent to me and to my co-accused has been illegally scanned by the superintendents and sent directly to investigation agencies. By violating the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution and trampling the laws the prison administration is committing a crime. Instead of opening the letters in front of us each letter that we receive is already opened and unsealed by the time it reaches us. The books, accompanying papers, and stamps are sneakily stolen. Similarly, the letter being sent outside is sent directly for scanning instead of being sealed in front of me.
Demand No. 2: The scanning done by administration and investigation agencies should be stopped at once and with due process legal action should be taken against the culprits.
According to prison rules every inmate must receive 135 litres of water, but the apathetic Taloja Central Jail administration provides only one bucket, that is 15 litres of water, to every inmate. The prison administrators have been literally creating a water shortage and selling the water. The prisoners are forced to survive with only 15 litres of water resulting in a reign of insanitation. Along with several other inmates I have been suffering from skin diseases, as well as an increased number of flies and mosquitoes during the summer.
Demand No. 3: Immediately put a stop to the perversely orchestrated water shortage in the prison and its inhumane sale. Immediately ensure every inmate is provided 135 litres of water and action is taken again those responsible.
Everyday more than 500 civilians visit the prison to meet the inmates as family members or lawyers. From the moment of registration until meeting the inmate the archaic system takes about 5-7 hours. Something as simple as visiting rooms or seating arrangements are not available during this time. Clean drinking water, fans, and even public toilets are not available for the visitors. The incompetent prison administration has made it extremely exhausting for my family members who travel hundreds of kilometres to meet me.
Demand No. 4: A permanent visiting room should be immediately constructed, and clean drinking water, sanitation, fans, and other facilities should be made available. An up-to-date token system should be implemented as soon as possible.
On the background of the Covid-19 pandemic telephone services were made available to all kinds/classes of inmates. Even though I am charged with being associated with Naxalism I was also connected to my family and my lawyers through telephone during the pandemic. Only after all due diligence and verification, and after giving due thought to my charges, was I given access to the telephone services like everyone else.
Currently, the telephone provision otherwise available to me has been stopped. Upon being asked the reason the circular of the Additional D.G.P. Prisons and Correctional Services (Coin Box/Telephone Services/ 1411/ 2019 Room – 9(B) Pune- 1 Date: 12-02-2019) was referred to. According to clause 3 – telephone services are provided to inmates apart from ‘Terrorist activities/ sedition / Naxalism / Gang war / Organised Crime / Habitual Offenders.’ To treat an accused as a convict until any accusation against them has been proven true is a violation of his fundamental human rights. Thus, until all accusations against me are proven to be true neither I nor anyone else can be meted out criminal treatment. Hence, the circular issued by the Prisons and Correctional Services is deemed unjust.
Demand No. 5: Above noted circular should be revoked and according to the principle of equal justice all undertrial and convicted inmates should receive the services made available during the Covid-19 pandemic with due verification and following the Gujrat and Telangana State Jail telephone facility pattern.
I sincerely request you to immediately act on above mentioned demands, approve them, and command the Prison and Correctional Services to act accordingly,
Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe
MB – 335 Room. 5
High Security Cell
Taloja Central Jail
Navi Mumbai – 410210
Date: 20th May 2022