After a 70-day-hunger strike in a detention centre in El Paso in the United States, a 33-year-old Indian man who left India in order to escape the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and seek asylum, recently won a temporary release. He left the facility on Thursday with his immigration lawyer.
Ajay Kumar, who hails from Punjab, went on a hunger strike early July this year when his claim for asylum was rejected. He had allegedly said that he would rather starve to death and get deported back to India. Medical officials at the detention centre then forced fed, which involves an extremely painful procedure of pumping fluids into the stomach, through a tube in the nose. He had lost 23 kilograms in 70 days of fasting.
The detainee was not alone in his hunger fast. He was accompanied by another man, identified as Gurjant Singh in the process and they started eating last week after they were promised that they will be granted asylum in the country.
Ajay Kumar was in a detention centre run by ICE for almost a year after he fled India in 2018 when he alleged that the BJP began threatening him and he feared that he will have to undergo massive torture, beatings, and even death at the hands of the right-wing party in India. Kumar claimed that in two separate instances, he was attacked by BJP members for his involvement with promoting the activities of Indian National Lok Dal, BJP's opposition party.
Ajay was bedridden for over a month after he was beaten by the BJP supporters in India. Ajay also said that his sister was a victim of an acid attack and his father was killed in India while he was in a detention centre in the US.
He fled India and travelled by land, air and water to get to the US where he turned himself to border patrol.
A few weeks into their hunger strikes, Kumar and Singh were given forced to hydrate through IV and later force-fed in the El Paso Detention Centre which has a medical wing. They were previously in the Otero facility.
Kumar's immigration attorney said that he will be living with his sponsor Margaret Brown Vega, of Las Cruces in New Mexico.