Comrade BN Singh who is a political prisoner inside Jaiprakash Narain Central Jail, Hazaribagh, has been on an indefinite hunger strike with a dozen other prisoners, highlighting prisoners’ demands for jail reforms. The demands include that prisoners who have been in prison for over ten years be kept in an open jail; meeting of the Sentence Review Board, in keeping with the NHRC recommendations, every three months to consider release of prisoners who have served 14 years in jail, based on the jail administration’s report on their conduct and potential for rehabilitation; DTH television provision inside the jail, as is available in other jails; provision to meet visitors in both shifts and to introduce intercom in the visiting area so that visitors and prisoners can hear each other; and.

Comrade Rajkumar Yadav, the CPI(ML) MLA from Rajdhanwar, raised the issue in zero-hour inside the Jharkhand Assembly. A dharna was held by AIPF at the Firayelal CHowk in Hazaribagh in support of Comrade BN Singh and the prisoners’ struggle.

After Comrade BN Singh’s condition deteriorated due to the hunger fast, the jail management agreed to several of the demands. The prisoners declared that if the Sentence Review Board did not meet by Republic Day, the prisoners would intensify their struggle. Comrade BN Singh then broke his fast by accepting juice from the 70-year-old Ahmad Qureshi. 

Communal Tension in Ballia, UP

The minority community in Sikandarpur and Rahsarh (Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh) had asked for security during the festive season of Diwali and Muharram but the SP advised them to take care of their own security citing shortage of police security forces; this despite the fact that the area has been in the grip of communal tension for the past one year. On 17 September a petty dispute arose between two children from different communities near the old post office and close to where the RSS shakha is held. Hindu boys cracked the head of a Muslim barber who tried to intervene, and rumours were floated that Muslims were molesting Hindu girls who had come to the Mela.

Soon goons from the RSS hub pounced towards the Muslim mohalla and started attacking them with bricks and stones. The police personnel present also joined the attackers and started throwing bricks and stones. A video of this scene went viral. One Hindu boy was slightly injured, and once again rumours were spread that dozens of Hindus had been killed. The media was at the forefront of spreading these rumours.

Top police officials arrived at the scene and imposed curfew on the Muslim locality which lasted only for two hours. In these 2 hours the local BJP MLA Sanjiv Yadav and Panchayat President Representative Jaiswal led a frenzied crowd in a calculated attack, burning dozens of Muslim shops and looting goods worth crores. The administration, instead of protecting the victims, sided with the attackers. The Muslims were forced to leave their homes and flee, and the next day more shops were looted on during the Durga immersion.

The next day the CPI(ML) held a dharna and submitted a memo to the Governor demanding a judicial enquiry. On 12 October over 500 CPI(ML) activists organized a march for their demand of a judicial enquiry into the incident. The police stopped the march at the Sikandarpur crossroads where it culminated in a meeting.

A 4-point memorandum was submitted to the Governor with the following demands: a judicial enquiry into the entire Sikandarpur incident; action against the guilty; compensation to the victim shopkeepers; registration of their cases; suspension of the guilty SP and DM and guarantee of safety and security for the minority community.

Earlier, an enquiry team led by AIARLA UP President Com. Shriram Choudhury and District Secretary Com. Lal Saheb visited Sikandarpur to find out the facts of the incident.