New Delhi: As the total number of Covid-19 cases in India crosses 900, the followers of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu (Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani), who is imprisoned for raping a minor, took to Twitter to demand his release on parole.
The hashtag #ReleaseAsharamjiBapuOnParole began trending on the microblogging site Monday. According to Asaram’s followers, since coronavirus is especially fatal to people older than 60 years of age, he should be released from prison to reduce the risk of infection.
They added that people in prisons are especially vulnerable to the infection, with one Twitter user calling them “incubators” for the novel coronavirus.
Asaram, who is 78-years-old, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment until death in April 2018, for raping a minor, five years after the case was first registered in 2013.
Asaram is currently serving his sentence at Jodhpur Central Jail, where hundreds of inmates went on a hunger strike last week, demanding parole because they were vulnerable to the coronavirus infection in jail. They cited crowded cells, poor sanitation and lack of proper medical facilities in support of their demand.
Prisoners being released due to Covid-19 pandemic
In India, several prisoners have been released to reduce overcrowding and contain the spread of Covid-19 in jails.
Tihar Jail in Delhi, Asia’s largest prison, released 409 prisoners in the past few weeks — 356 were granted interim bail while 63 are out on emergency parole.
In Uttar Pradesh, 11,000 inmates lodged across 71 jails will be released after the Allahabad High Court directed the state government to reduce the crowding in jails.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, more than 900 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country, with 27 deaths. Due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has infected 199 countries across the world. Over 7.2 lakh people have been infected by the virus, while more than 34,000 people have died.