By Prashant Rahi, Newzfirst

NEW DELHI –   Even as the world outside wonders whether journalist Seema Azad and her husband Vishwavijay deserved the life sentence awarded them by a Sessions Court at Allahabad, reports reached the capital today of a day-long fast in prisons of two states in the country in protest.

Seema Azad, Editor of the currently suspended Hindi political magazine Dastak was arrested in February 2010 on returning to her home town from the World Book Fair, held at Pragati Maidan here with a load of books of her choice. Her choice, according to the UP police, itself was proof that she was a member and active supporter of the then recently banned CPI (Maoist) and of waging war and conspiring against the state.
After a two and a half year trial at the Allahabad District and Sessions Court, she, along with her husband, Vishwavijay alias Kamal, who had come to receive her with the books at the railway station, were last week awarded life imprisonment and 10 years’ sentences under various sections of the UA(P)A, 2008 and Sections 121 and 121A of the IPC.
About a week after the much-discussed verdict, the human rights organsiation, People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), of which Seema was also the UP Organising Secretary, held a press conference here to announce its plan to launch a countrywide campaign to protest the verdict.
No sooner had the press conference got over than the news that prisoners in two states of eastern India had observed a day-long fast on this and another issue reached the capital. Supporters of Seema Azad from different organizations, gathering in the capital to discuss plans for the campaign, informed that the jails in Bihar and Jharkhand were witness to an unprecedented fast on the day of the PUCL press conference.
Among those who are reported to have led the one-day jail fast are alleged former Central Committee members of the CPI (Maoist), the ageing Mr Sushil Roy, Mr Narayan Sanyal, Mr Jagdish Yadav, Mr Pramod Mishra, Ms Sheela Marandi, Mr Vijay Arya and Mr Varanasi Subramaniam. The first four of these are believed to have been Politbureau members of their party. Primarily led by the Maoist leadership in the jails of the two neighbouring states, the fast elicited the support of thousands of political and ordinary prisoners.
Apart from the Sessions verdict, the fasting prisoners were also protesting the alleged custodial death of one Madan Yadav in the Aurangabad district of Bihar last month.