Families Protest After 3 Undertrial Prisoners of Yerwada Die on Same Day

Their families have contested police's claim that the deaths were natural and have asked for a detailed inquiry into the causes of their respective deaths. 

New Delhi: Three undertrial prisoners of the Yerwada Central Jail of Maharashtra’s Pune city died at a government hospital on December 31 prompting protests by their families, PTI has reported.

The three prisoners died at the Sassoon General Hospital of separate ailments, according to officials quoted by PTI.

“One of the three undertrials was HIV positive, while another was suffering from liver cirrhosis, The third one had a heart-related ailment…It was a natural death (sic),” a police official was quoted as having said.

Hindustan Times identified this official as police sub-inspector Ashok Kate. An accidental death case has been registered, Kate said.

However, their families have contested this claim and asked for a detailed inquiry into the causes of their respective deaths.

On Monday, January 2, the families of the three deceased persons staged a protest outside the jail premises. They also alleged that they had been kept in the dark regarding the fact that their imprisoned relatives had been moved to the hospital for treatment.

One of the three prisoners, Ranganath Datal, had been moved to Sassoon on December 28, according to Yerawada police officials quoted by HT.

Two others, Sandesh Gondekar and Shahrukh Sheikh, were admitted to Sassoon on December 31, the same day on which they passed away.

Yerwada is one of the largest prisons in south Asia. Several of the accused in the Elgar Parishad case – all undertrials – are also lodged there.

Courts, activists and rights bodies have often spoken about India’s problem of ‘excessive’ undertrial detention. India has one of the highest undertrial populations in the world.

Among the 5,54,034 inmates across India’s prisons, 77.1% were under-trials and 22.2% were those who had been convicted by a court of law, data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows.