The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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34 more to join fast from today
- Fresh bail petitions filed as strike enters14th day

Siliguri, Sept. 17: As the stand-off between the administration and the 19 prisoners on hunger strike at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) completed 13 days today, 34 other KLO militants of Jalpaiguri Central Jail have decided to join the indefinite protest from tomorrow in support of their comrades.

This was announced today by members of Rajnaitik Bandi Mukti Committee, an apolitical organisation fighting for political prisoners of the state. In case the deadlock persists till September 21, the relatives of the inmates will also join in the fast, said Saroj Ghosh, the divisional committee secretary of the organisation.

The strikers — comprising 12 KLO militants, six Maoists and one member of the Ulfa — started the fast on September 5, demanding that their trials be expedited and they be released on bail. Some of the protesters have been in jail custody for as long as three years. They were shifted to the NBMCH on the fourth day of the strike and have been kept on saline drip and medicines.

Reiterating the undertrials’ resolve to continue the fast, Sudhangshu Sarkar, the lawyer representing the KLO militants, said he had filed fresh bail petitions on behalf of his clients at the Jalpaiguri district court on Saturday. Sarkar, who had earlier sought the intervention of the Supreme Court and Calcutta High Court, today met the inmates at the hospital. “It is up to the government and the judiciary now to take a decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, members of the Darjeeling district unit of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights have written to the chief minister, inspector general of prisons and home secretary, urging them to take immediate steps.

Doctors at NBMCH discussed the health condition of the strikers today. “They have become a matter of concern for us. We are monitoring their health on a regular basis, administering necessary medicines,” said NBMCH superintendent Samir Ghosh Roy. “But we must admit that some of them are deteriorating fast.”

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