10 Elgaar Parishad accused allege ‘political censorship’ by jail authorities

Kaustubh Kurlekar of Taloja jail scans and saves letters, they have said in a letter to State Home Minister

Updated - November 22, 2021 09:57 pm IST

Published - August 26, 2021 09:55 pm IST - Mumbai:

View of the entrance of Central Jail at Taloja, Navi Mumbai. File

View of the entrance of Central Jail at Taloja, Navi Mumbai. File

Ten of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case have written to Maharashtra’s Home Minister alleging that Taloja Central Jail’s Superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar scans and saves copies of letters written by them to their family and advocates.

The letter written on Thursday has been signed by Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor.

In the letter, they have said, “Mr Anand, Mr Gaichor and Mr Ferreira were served notice and accused by Superintendent Mr Kurlekar invoking powers vide of Rule 20 of Chapter 31 (Facilities to Prisoners) of the Maharashtra Jail Manual. Dr Anand for two articles, Mr Gaichor for a poem as an obituary for cultural activist and Ambedarkite Vira Saathidar and Mr Ferreira for an essay in memory of Father Stan Swamy. They were intimated that what they wrote was ‘objectionable, creating doubts relating to the investigation of Bhima Koregaon offences and propagating naxal ideology’.”

The letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu, reads, “Rule 20 which refrains the prisoner from writing any ‘matter likely to become the subject of political propaganda’ was struck down as violative of fundamental rights by the Bombay High Court in 1992.”

‘Not true’

When contacted, Mr. Kurlekar refuted the allegations and said, “Why should I keep the letters? What will I get out of them?” He also denied having issued any notice against the three accused.

Sources said, although Mr. Kurlekar has demitted office and been transferred from the prison he continues to take charge of all the administrative work.

Mr. Kurlekar however, has recently forwarded an application to NIA court in Mumbai objecting to all letters by the accused and termed it as “misconduct by them”.

The letter goes on to say, “Not satisfied with this illegal ‘political censorship’ the superintendent scans/saves letters we write to family, friends and correspondence to advocates (which amounts to breach of privileged communication). We believed that some if not all are being shared with the police and prosecution. All this in addition causes inordinate delay in dispatch of letters to their destination.”

The letter seeks for a direction to prison authorities in Maharashtra to halt the illegal scanning.

They have urged the Minister to ensure that prison administration immediately halt the illegal practice of ‘political censorship’.

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