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NHRC issues notice to Punjab government over hunger strike by Bathinda Central Jail inmates demanding better facilities, orders inspection

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Prisons of Punjab over prisoners of the Bathinda Central jail on a hunger strike demanding better facilities, including among others, increase in the number and duration of phone calls to their families and lawyers in pursuance of the Prison Manual.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the Commission observed that contents of the media report, if true, amount to a serious concern about the basic human rights of the prisoners as permitted under law.

The Commission further directed its Special Rapporteur, Mahesh Singla, to inspect the Bathinda Central Jail and submit a report at the earliest.

It directed the government functionaries to file a detailed report within four weeks on steps taken or proposed to be taken as per Model Prison Manual, 2016.

According to the media report carried on May 15, 2023, the inmates have been demanding facilities to go outside the barracks for walks and smooth top-up of their canteen cards, which were presently facing issues. 

They further sought installation of television in their barracks for entertainment. This was not the first time that the inmates of Bathinda Central Jail had staged an agitation. 

About 15 days back, the prisoners had gone on a hunger strike but called it off after an assurance from the jail authorities to look into their demands.

Even in 2021, some outlaws had gone on a hunger strike alleging poor food quality.

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