A man serving a six-year term in a prison in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has turned down parole during decongestion efforts in the wake of the brutal second wave of Covid-19, saying it was safer inside than out.
BP Pandey, senior superintendent of the Meerut prison, told The Indian Express that inmate Ashish Kumar’s request has been approved and he will stay inside the prison till he completes his sentence.
India has reported more than 28 million Covid-19 cases and 329,100 deaths due to Covid-19 till date.
Mr Kumar, who was a teacher, was arrested in 2015. Mr Kumar’s request comes even as 21 other inmates in nine prisons of Uttar Pradesh also refused parole on the grounds that they feel safer inside during the pandemic.
If they get a 90-day release, the time will get added to the punishment term, director general of jail administration Anand Kumar told news agency Press Trust of India, which could be the other reason for them choosing jail over parole.
He said the prisoners might also not be able to access food and other healthcare facilities, which are available in prisons, when they go out.
“Health checkup is done regularly in jails. They get food on time, they are safe and healthy in jails. The inmates say that once they go out of the jail, they will have to struggle to earn a living,” Mr Anand Kumar told PTI.
The Supreme Court of India on 8 May passed an order on the decongestion of prisons after taking note of the surge in coronavirus cases. The court ordered the release of all those prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year due to the pandemic.
The court also observed that some prisoners “might not be willing to get released in view of their social background and the fear of becoming victims to the virus.” It directed the authorities “to be considerate to the concerns of the inmates.”
From Meerut prison, 42 convicted prisoners and 326 undertrials have been released on interim bail to decongest the barracks, Mr Pandey told The Indian Express.