The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jail ceiling on Vaiko visitors

Chennai, March 8: In a new turn of events, prison authorities in Tamil Nadu have imposed a ceiling on the number of visitors calling on MDMK leader Vaiko and Tamil Nationalist Movement leader Pazha Nedumaran. Vaiko and Nedumaran have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and are currently lodged in Vellore and Cuddalore Central prisons respectively.

The access curbs allow only three persons per day to call on them in their respective prisons, party and family sources said today. Family members of the two leaders were shocked to learn about these restrictions yesterday, sources said.

It is, however, not yet clear whether the ceiling applies to all anti-terror Act detainees or only to Vaiko and Nedumaran. Senior prison department officials were not available for comment.

Besides restricting the number of visitors to three, including relatives, the authorities added that they would be allowed to meet the prisoner at the same time and for a maximum of 30 minutes at the jail wardenís room, the MDMK said in a statement.

It added that even during British rule, the prison manual did not clamp such restrictions. Allowing people, including party functionaries, to call on a political prisoner and one who was leading a political party was well within the ambit of prison rules and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the MDMK contended.

Yesterday, a group of doctors, besides a host of well-wishers, friends and political functionaries who had come from Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Salem to visit Vaiko had to return disappointed, MDMK spokesman Nanmaran said.

Sources in Nedumaranís family said the curbs were believed to have been a sequel to DMK youth wing leader M.K. Stalin calling on the former at the Cuddalore jail a few days back.

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