INDIA: Prisoners in Maharashtra on hunger strike protesting diet changes


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-11-2004
ISSUES: Prison conditions,

Dear friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that in an arbitrary act by the government of Maharashtra, the diet for foreign prisoners has been changed, and they are now forced to eat Indian food, which they cannot digest. Foreign prisoners in the Yervada central prison resorted to a hunger strike, resulting in the hospitalization of some prisoners.

The AHRC is concerned by this arbitrary act by the Maharashtra government, which deprives prisoners of their human rights, and violates international standards for the treatment of prisoners. We urge the state and central governments to provide redress on this matter immediately. Your urgent action to pressure the local authorities to correct this matter is required.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)



By a circular dated 14 November 2003, under the signature of Kiran Thakur, Deputy Secretary of Government of Maharashtra, Home Department, the diet prescribed for foreign prisoners was changed and they are now forced to eat Indian food, which they cannot digest. The prescribed diet for foreign prisoners against what they are being forced to eat is described below:

Diet before 14.11.2003 New modified foreigner’s diet
Bread-800 gms (per day) Wheat Flour- 620 gms per day
Tea- 160 ml per day
Butter- 25 gms (per day) Tamarind-5 gms per day
Milk-220 ml (perday) Pulses 150 gms per day
Sugar-40 gms (per day) Salt-20 gms per day
Egg- 1 per day Condiments 9 gms per day
Rice-200 gms per day Rice 310 gms-twice a week
Banana-2 pc per day Onions 55 gms-twice a week
Tea-7 gms per day Sweet oil 20 gms per day
Potato-170 gms per day Vegetables 260 gms per day
Sweet oil-20 gms per day Jaggery-85 gms once a week
Salt-20 gms per day Gram Flour-30 gms once a week
Condimenta-9 gms per day Vegetable oil- 30 gms -once a week
Pulses 115 gms per day
Vegetable-260 gms per day
Onions- 55 gms (thrice a week)
Jaggery-85 gms once a week
Gram Floor- 30 gms once a week
Vegetable oil- 30 gms once a week

Indian food is different and more spicy than what the prisoners are used to.

Allegedly, the reason for this prescribed change was only that several politicians noticed foreign prisoners eating different food from local prisoners – a few days later, the circular announcing the diet change arrived.

There are 36 prisons in the state of Maharashtra, with 2700 foreign prisoners. All the prisoners support the hunger strike that began in December 2003, and even the prison officers are sympathetic. However, only the Home Ministry has the power to change the situation.


Please write a letter to the addresses below expressing your concern on this humanitarian issue.

1. Dr. P.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Office of the President, 
Rashtrapati Bhawan, 
New Delhi, 110004 
Tel: +91-11-23016767 (Joint Secretary), 23014507 (Personal Secretary)
Fax: +91-11-23017290, 23014570 
Email: or

2. Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde
Chief Minister of Maharashtra 
Office of the Chief Minister 
Mantralaya, Mumbai 400 023 
Tel: +91-22-23633051 / 23634950 
FAX: + 91-22-23631446

3. Justice Shri Arivind Sawant 
Maharashtra Human Rights Commission
Fax: +91 22 2885858 

4. Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block, Central Secretariat
New Delhi – 110 001
Tel: +91 23092011, 23092161
Fax: +91 23093750, 23092763

5. Mr. Theo C. van Boven 
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture 
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9016




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RE: Prisoners in Maharashtra on hunger strike protesting diet changes

I have learned that large number of prisoners in Maharashtra prisons, particularly those in Yervada central prison are on a hunger strike, protesting against the diet changes prescribed to them, which they find unsuitable. The hunger strike began in December 2003 and is still ongoing, resulting in the hospitalization of several prisoners. We draw your attention to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and request an investigation into this matter. This humanitarian issue must be resolved immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-11-2004
Countries : India,
Issues : Prison conditions,