"they are safe and healthy in jails."
An Indian prisoner has turned down parole due to fears of Covid-19, saying it is safer inside than out.
Inmate Ashish Kumar is currently serving a six-year sentence at Meerut Prison in Uttar Pradesh.
The former teacher was arrested in 2015 for driving his wife to commit suicide.
But after being granted special parole amid prison decongestion efforts, Kumar refused it.
Instead, the prisoner requested to stay inside the prison until he completes his entire sentence.
According to BP Pandey, Senior Superintendent of Meerut Prison, the jail approved his request.
Pandey told the Indian Express:
“We had sent his request to the government for the approval.
“We have received the nod, which means that Ashish Kumar will remain in the jail till he completes his sentence.”
To date, India has reported more than 28 million Covid-19 cases and almost 330,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Kumar’s request to stay in prison is a popular one. He is one of 21 other inmates in nine prisons to make the request.
Multiple prisoners are refusing special parole on the grounds that they feel safer inside due to the pandemic.
As well as this, if prisoners get a 90-day release, the time will get added to their sentence, according to the director-general of jail administration Anand Kumar.
Therefore, this could be another reason why prisoners are choosing jail over parole.
Anand Kumar also said that the prisoners may not be able to access food and other healthcare facilities on the outside like they do in prison.
“The other overriding reason which they give is that if they go out, they will not get food and other health care facilities, which they get in the jails.
“The inmates say health check-up is done regularly in the jails. They get food on time, they are safe and healthy in jails.
“The inmates say that once they go out of the jail, they will have to struggle to make a livelihood.”
Prisoner Ashish Kumar was granted parole amid decongestion efforts due to Covid-19.
On May 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of India passed an order on the decongestion of prisons after noticing the surge in Covid-19 cases.
The court ordered for the release of all prisoners granted either bail or parole in 2020 due to the pandemic.
According to Mr Pandey, 43 convicted prisoners from Meerut Prison were shortlisted on a special eight-week parole to help with decongestion.
With the exception of Ashish Kumar, all the inmates accepted the parole and were released.
Pandey also said that 326 undertrials have also been released on interim bail.