Numerous inmates, including journalist Naveen Soorinje, of the Mangalore District Prison staged a hunger strike on Wednesday demanding better food, end of harassment by prison and police officials, and a provision of escorts to keep court dates.

According to officials in the prison, around 90 inmates from Ward A of the prison staged a sit-in in front of the kitchen and refused to eat until the Deputy Commissioner or the Principal Sessions Magistrate met them. However, the Deputy Commissioner was busy with the visit of the Governor and other ministers to the city, and the Magistrate said the escorts issue did not come under the jurisdiction of the judiciary.

The inmates called off the stike at 3 p.m. after they were asked to submit their complaint in writing to the Deputy Commissioner.

The cause

In the interim, visitors to the prison were sent back throughout the day. The prison houses 330 inmates in two blocks, including Mr. Soorinje who was arrested in connection with the telecast of the assault on college students in a boarding home on the outskirts of the city on July 28.

The prison officials maintain that the issue started after prison officials raided the jail between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., targeting history-sheeter Rashid Malabari and his associates, who were suspected of harbouring weapons in the prison. “We got a tip-off around midnight, and then organised a search of Ward A and a cell of Block B. We did not find weapons, but found five mobiles and three chargers. This agitated Malabari, who said he was being harassed and targeted,” he said.

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