Bengal asked to amend law deeming Maoists political prisoners

India's home ministry has asked the West Bengal government to amend a law that grants political prisoner status to Maoists in the state as it had countrywide implications, official sources said.

The sources said the ministry sent a communication to the state government last month calling for amendment to the law but had not been informed of follow-up action. They said the ministry was concerned about the development.

Terror convict Aftab Ansari, who is on death row for masterminding the American Center attack in Kolkata 10 years ago, has sought a political prisoner's status basing his argument on the petitions submitted by seven Maoists to the Calcutta High Court earlier this year seeking political prisoner status. The court granted them the status in August.

Ansari, lodged in the Alipore Central Jail in Kolkata, sent the application Nov 23. He argued that like the Maoists, he too had been convicted for "waging war against the state",

Sources said the home ministry had told the state government to move the Supreme Court as the high court order had countrywide ramifications. It also suggested that the law should be amended.
They said that West Bengal Correctional Services Act says that any offence committed or alleged to have been committed with an exclusive political objective, free from personal motive, shall be considered as a political offence.

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