Lodged inside the country’s most crowded prison, 59 Hindu prisoners have been observing fast in Ramzan along with their 2,299 co-prisoners of Muslim faith. They may follow a different faith, but each of them said they have their own reason to observe roza.
A 45-year-old woman told jail officers she is fasting for the welfare of her son outside. The woman was arrested for kidnapping. Her case is yet to be decided by a court.
Another prisoner reportedly told officials that he is observing roza in hopes of an early release.
A 21-year-old prisoner who came to jail a few months ago is also among those fasting. He told jail officials he is doing so because he observed his Muslim co-prisoners fasting and wanted to participate with them.
There are 97 women prisoners who are fasting. Spread across different jails, the central prison has around 15,000 inmates.
With temperatures outside soaring to record levels, jail officials say they have made special arrangements for prisoners observing roza. On Sunday the day temperature crossed 45 degrees Celsius in Delhi.
Every jail superintendent has been directed to participate in the Iftar —when the sun sets and those observing Roza have their first meal of the day.
The prison’s director general, Ajay Kashyap said an inter jail co-ordination meeting was held before the month-long festival started earlier this month.
“Across all jails, officials have put up boards which display the sunset timings every day. We have ordered dates and Rooh Afza for all the fasting prisoners. There is also a special arrangement to make space available for them to observe Namaz in the morning hours. The jail timings have also been relaxed for prisoners who are fasting,” Kashyap said.
Jail officers have also deputed one officer who will inform prisoners about the change in timings to break their fast every day. According to prison rules, prisoners are not supposed to wear watches.
On the Hindu prisoners fasting during Ramzan, a jail officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “Inside the prison the one thing that the prisoners have is time. Each of them is troubled in their own way. Many of these prisoners try to change their ways and seek the end of their trouble in religion. Inside the prison, we see many cases of prisoners either finding a newfound religious connection or, in some cases, losing whatever little faith they had.”