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Institutional murder under a proto-fascist state: Pandu Narote’s death in prison

By Harsh Thakor 

Pandu Narote, who was framed along with former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for Maoist links, died on August 25 after contracting swine flu. He was imprisoned at the Nagpur Central Jail. One of the blackest days in post-1947 Indian history. Crushing of democratic dissent has touched volumes unprecedented, with human rights at an abysmal low, Narote is a martyr in the struggle for social justice. and his death symbolises the strangulation of a political prisoner by the tentacles of proto-fascism, which shimmers at a helm. Work of such martyrs has embarrassed the fascist rulers in their very belly.
As per information of prison officials, the 33-year-old had high fever on August 20 and was subsequently diagnosed with swine flu. Later, he was admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMC) in Nagpur where his condition kept worsening.. He passed away at 5.30pm. His family had written to the Nagpur jail superintendent on Thursday, before his death, stating that they were not informed about his medical condition and the jail authorities would owe responsibility should something happen to him.
Narote’s lawyer Akash Sorde said the family or lawyers were kept ignorant condition and that they learnt about it through news reports. The family approached the jail authorities for information and visited GMC Hospital but were not allowed to meet Narote, he said. Narote’s lawyers had also approached the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday seeking urgent medical care for him, stating that he was admitted at the jail hospital without any facility of specialised care.
He was shifted to GMC two days ago and continued to be instated there despite a referral by the authorities there that swine flu could not be treated at the hospital and sought for him to be shifted to another facility, his lawyer said.
Narote, a 33- year old young man was deliberately denied access to the prescribed medical care by the jail authorities because of his adherence to political beliefs and precisely, because of this he breathed his last in Nagpur GMCH hospital. The truth is that Narote was not provided with any medical intervention until his physical condition had completely deteriorated. The jail authorities cold-bloodedly ignored him when he fell sick initially.
They shifted him to the hospital only when he was on the brink of death and it was evident that the doctors would not be able to save him. Akash Sorte, an advocate who appeared on behalf of him in the court of law, has confirmed that Narote was already in a terrible condition by the time he was shifted to the hospital. Similarly, another advocate Nihalsing Rathod diagnosed that his death is nothing but an institutional murder as he was transferred to the hospital only when his death was ia foregone conclusion.
Narote’s death, in its own right, implies that the institutional murder of G.N.Saibaba is a virtual inevitability if he is not immediately released from jail he is residing in a most inhuman condition and health deteriorating.. Day and night, he is subjected to torture. It must not be forgotten that Saibaba is 90 percent physically-disabled and severely ill. He has been kept in an Anda cell, one of the most appalling types of cell, for the crime which he never committed. For sure, it is high time when civil society rises in unison to ensure that he is released from jail at the earliest. Narote’s death needs to be grasped in the context of the institutional murder of Stan Swamy, an 82-year-old tribal rights activist, which was executed by none other than the authorities of the prison where he was kept to languish months after months.
All democrats must fight to the last tooth to punish those who conspired to kill him, are charged and convicted under the law of crimes. Importantly, a Supreme Court-monitored committee must be formalised to investigate the crimes of the advocates of the state who have been murdering the activists like Pandu Narote and Stan Swamy and provide an adequate judicial solution.
This incident is the perfect illustration how the fangs of neo-fascism are sharpening day by day, penetrating every rung of society.Considering the era it surpasses even the barbarity of the colonial days, being manifestation of how the fabric of the Constitution is torn to pieces. Democratic organisations must organise protests in every nook and corner illustrating how the ruling govt is patronising institutional murder on activists and how political prisoners are stripped of all rights prescribed by law.
It is imperative for protests to be held within prison walls to protect any remnants of civil rights. A concerted appeal must be made to the Supreme Court. It is a shame that our judiciary is becoming absolutely subservient to the rulers in power .A strong democratic lawyers front is imperative, today. In some regions of India violation of rights in jails, surpass the barbarity of the colonial days. A major campaign has to be undertaken to challenge the proto-fascist laws.
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Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who covers mass movements around India and been close to the civil liberties movement

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