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Tuesday, June 29, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK

World: South Asia

Indian prisoners beg to fight

Bangalore prisoners are keen to sign up for the life of a soldier

By Habib Beary in Bangalore

The superintendent of Bangalore jail has said he has received written requests from at least 50 prisoners asking to fight in Kashmir against what India calls Pakistan-backed infiltrators.

Kashmir Conflict
B S Abbai said the prison authorities had received similar requests from at least 1,000 other prisoners housed in different jails in the city.

The prisoners, some of whom are serving serving terms of life imprisonment, say they would rather die fighting for the country than rot in prison.

The Indian Army is locked in a bitter battle to flush out infiltrators in the Kargil and Drass areas of Kashmir.

[ image: A long way from Bangalore to Kashmir]
A long way from Bangalore to Kashmir
Mr Abbai said they have also collected 100,000 rupees for the welfare of Indian soldiers.

Francis Coutinho, in jail for murder, said he thinks he would be able to do something good for the country if he is sent to fight the infiltrators.

Similar views were expressed by fellow inmate, Murgesh.

The authorities, however, have not yet taken a decision on the issue.

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