New Delhi: At a time when the whole nation is soaked in celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, nearly 600 prisoners, convicted of offences other than murder, rape and corruption, were released from 150 jails across the country on Wednesday to mark the occasion.

As a goodwill gesture, these prisoners were released under a special remission scheme. However, around 80 convicts selected from jails in Maharashtra and Haryana could not be released as the model code of conduct is in place after the announcement of Assembly elections in these two states.

Of the five prisoners, the Tihar jail administration said will release only three. “Two prisoners have to clear payment of fines of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 respectively imposed on them,” Tihar Jail Director General Sandeep Goyal told IANS.

To begin with, Uttar Pradesh released around 60 prisoners from various jails of the state. The prisoners who were released on the occasion are those who have completed their term but have not been able to pay the fine amount. Some of the prisoners who are critically ill were also released.

In the eastern Indian state of Odisha, seven convicts lodged in various jails were released under the amnesty scheme. “While five convicts were released from Keonjhar, one from the Choudwar circle jail in Cuttack and one from prison in Jharsuguda,” Satyajit Mohanty, additional director general (Prison), told IANS.

Over three prisoners serving different sentences in Goa’s prisons were released on humanitarian grounds on the occasion Gandhi Jayanti. Those released included Darshan Sawkar (56) who was serving a life sentence for allegedly murdering her elder sister in 2013. The two others released are Illiyazar Tite (32) and John Fernandes (25).

Andhra Pradesh also granted special remission to 10 prisoners as a humanitarian gesture on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Four convicted prisoners from Rajahmundry Central Prison, two from Visakhapatnam Central Prison and one each from Kadapa Central Prison, Nellore Central Prison, District Jail Vijayawada, and District Jail, Ananthapur were granted remission and released on Tuesday.

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a notification had said that it would release nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on October 2. “On the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and as a humanitarian gesture, Government of India has taken a decision to grant a special dispensation to nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country,” MHA sources had told ANI.

The MHA under the scheme for special remission to prisoners to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi has so far released 1,424 prisoners in states and union territories in two phases – on October 2, 2018 and April 6, 2019.

(With inputs from IANS, ANI)