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Prison food immolation

Patna, July 27: An undertrial prisoner allegedly immolated himself at Nawada divisional jail this afternoon in protest against sub-standard food served to the inmates.

The victim, Rupesh Paswan (40), was rushed to the Sadar hospital at Nawada with over 80 per cent burns.

A section of jail inmates had been agitating since the past couple of days in support of their demands. Rupesh, reportedly leading the agitation, allegedly poured kerosene on his body at 11.30am.

Nawada district magistrate Lalan Yadav said an investigation had been ordered into the circumstances leading to the incident.

Nawada sub-divisional officer Rajesh Kumar and sub-divisional police officer Sanjay Kumar Pandey have been assigned the task of conducting the probe. “It would not be prudent to comment right now. The report of the probe team is awaited,” he said.

On being pestered, DM Yadav said the jail authorities told him that Rupesh tried to commit “suicide” by immolating himself. “Our priority is to save the victim, who is reported to have received over 80 per cent burn injuries,” he said, adding that the allegations of some prisoners about assault on them by the jail officials were being verified.

A senior police officer, however, claimed that Rupesh accused a few prisoners of hatching the conspiracy to eliminate him. “The inmates, including Pramod Rajak, Gore Yadav and Brahmadev Yadav poured kerosene on me and set me on fire,” the officer quoted Rupesh as saying.

Sources said Rupesh, lodged in the jail for four years in a case lodged under the Arms Act, was later referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). “His condition is serious as he has suffered over 80 per cent burns and needs utmost care,” a doctor attending to the prisoner at Nawada Sadar hospital said.

The district magistrate said a section of inmates had opposed to the measures taken by the jail authorities to stop the use of cellphones inside the prison. “The agitation is a part of their well-planned strategy to exert pressure on the jail administration,” he added.

Taking a serious note of the matter, Inspector-general (prisons and correctional services) Prem Singh Meena also ordered a probe into the incident.

He asked deputy inspector-general, prisons, (administration) Umakant Sharan to visit the jail and submit a detailed report to the prison directorate. The victim’s relatives have also decided to approach the state human rights commission to seek justice.

Nawada superintendent of police Chandrika Prasad said additional forces have been deployed at the jail as a precautionary measure.

The sources said Rupesh’s supporters went on a rampage, demanding stern action against jail officials.


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