In response to a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the prison department of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has revealed 2,050 inmates have died in the state since 2010, The Times of India reported.
The staggering number puts the toll to one every 26 hours on an average, a finding that has been sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), governor of UP and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) by human rights activist Naresh Paras, who had filed the RTI.
According to the figures stated in the report, 2,062 prisoners died between January 2010 and February 2016, of which more than 50% were undertrials. Between 2010 and 2015, 44 prisoners committed suicide. Around 24 died in police custody or were allegedly murdered.
Paras told TOI that age and natural causes, the two most oft-cited reasons for prison deaths, should not be allowed to become an excuse to avoid the shocking reality. The reasons behind prison deaths, he said, go beyond the immediate ones and include appalling infrastructure and lack of medical treatment. There is also a failure of jail authorities to ensure security to the prisoners, leading to several cases of suicide and murder in prison.
In his response, inspector general of police (IG) GL Meena pointed out deaths reported due to old age and illness are quite normal and inevitable, but efforts are on in the last few years to improve the living condition of the inmates. Reducing overcrowding, increasing medical care and hygiene levels in prisons are being undertaken to improve the general state of the prisons.
TOI pointed out that there has been an increase in the number of deaths in 2012, with 360 recorded, including one of a Pakistani undertrial. Three prisoners killed themselves.
In 2013 and 2014, 358 and 345 prisoners died respectively. In 2015, 345 deaths were recorded, while 53 died in the first two months of 2016.
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