Calcutta, Aug. 29: A glass of water. That’s all Peter Bleach had today, signalling the start of an indefinite fast in his Presidency Jail cell.
“I have no other means to draw attention to the discrimination I have been subjected to and the fundamental rights I have been denied. This is also my protest against the conditions prevailing in the jail where I have been rotting since January 1, 1996,” the Purulia armsdrop accused told The Telegraph on Day One of his hungerstrike.
The Briton has been waging a lone court battle for the past two years, ever since the five Latvians were granted remission by the President of India.
“The point I have been trying to make is simple: the Latvians, who were serving identical sentences on identical grounds, are free while I am not. Keeping me in jail like this amounts to ritual humiliation on the part of the Indian government,” said Bleach.
The decision to go on fast comes days after news of the meeting between Jack Straw and Union home minister L.K. Advani in London trickled into Bleach’s “9-foot-by-12-foot” cell in Alipore.
According to a Tory MP in London, when the matter of his continued incarceration was raised by Straw yet again, Advani said a legal procedure was underway and so he could not intervene.
“To me, it is utterly extraordinary that the Indian government should behave in this way. This is vindictive and spiteful and I will not give in to it,” said Bleach, “bitterly disappointed” that Justice A.K. Ganguly has reserved judgment on his petition in high court, without giving any indication when the matter will be taken up.
Paul Walsh, deputy head of mission, British deputy high commission, said: “We are extremely concerned over Peter Bleach’s condition. We tried to talk him out of the hunger strike but he is determined to continue and desperate for justice.”