Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Activists of the Al-Umma, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) observed a day’s fast at the Puzhal central prison here on Tuesday.

According to a source in the Prison Department, 12 prisoners lodged in the high-security block went on the fast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in support of Nalini and Robert Payas, life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who are demanding premature release. Among the prisoners who took part in the agitation were Kunnangudi R.M. Hanifa, Erwadi Kasim and Sundaramoorthy.

While there was no agitation in any other prison in the State, the prisoners who took part in the fast in Chennai declared that theirs was a token fast and further action would depend on the action taken by the authorities concerned.

The demand for premature release gained momentum after the government ordered the release of some prisoners from the Coimbatore central prison to mark the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai, the source added.

At the special prison for women at Vellore, Nalini’s indefinite fast entered the fifth day on Tuesday while that of Robert Payas, lodged in the Vellore central prison, entered day eight. “We are closely monitoring their health condition. Both the prisons (at Vellore) have well equipped hospitals and as a routine medical team is stationed there round the clock for any exigency,” Deputy Inspector General of Prisons R. Duraisamy said.