Human Rights

Kashmiri and terror-accused detainees assaulted in jail

New Delhi: Violation of fundamental, human and legal rights of prisoners, who have alleged they were subjected to severe physical torture at the Tihar Jail here, came under the Delhi High Court's scanner as it ordered on 27 November an enquiry into the incident.

The high court termed as "very disturbing" the alleged attack on inmates lodged in a high-risk ward in jail number 1 of the central jail in the night of November 21.

"We need to take a call. It (the incident) is completely unjustifiable. If this is the situation in Delhi, what about other places," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar remarked.

It said the issue was "extremely serious" and required a "serious probe", before an intervention by this court.

It appointed a three-member fact-finding committee, headed by a District Judge of a trial court, to enquire into the incident, in which 18 inmates were allegedly beaten up by the jail staff, and submit their report before it.

"It is our duty to ensure their (inmates) life is safe and secure even though they are accused of serious offences," the bench said.

The high court was hearing a PIL by an advocate Chinmay Kanojia, who has alleged that his client Shahid Yusuf, currently being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and undergoing trial, was beaten up without any reason by the Tihar Jail staff.

The plea by advocate Jawahar Raja said inmates of a particular community, including Yusuf, were being targeted by the jail staff causing serious injuries to him and others.

Moved by the plight of the inmates in various jails and the poor living conditions there, the bench asked the AAP government and Tihar Jail authorities "which law says that the prisoners should sleep on the floor".

When the incident was brought to the attention of the high court on November 22, the court had set up a committee of senior high court judicial officers to look into the matter.

The committee, in its report, said that the inmates were beaten up without any justifiable reason. It said that despite unequivocal statutory guidelines, an incident has been perpetrated where prisoners were beaten up with such severity that it had resulted in them harbouring a constant fear of being killed by the prison authorities on one pretext or another.

Taking note of the report, the bench directed the fact finding committee that the 18 prisoners, who have received injuries, be produced before the medical superintendent of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

It said that medical superintendent should set up a board to conduct medical tests of the inmates and give their report to the fact-finding committee.

The high court also asked the authorities and committee to preserve the CCTV footage of incident at the Tihar Jail.

It fixed the matter for further hearing on December 19 and directed the authorities to ensure safety and security of the persons, who have been beaten up.

During the 27 November hearing, counsel for Shahid Yousuf, the son of Hizbul Mujhadeen commander Syed Salahuddin who is languishing in high security Tihar jail, produced a blood-stained shirt of Shahid alleging that his client was ruthlessly beaten up by Tamil Nadu Force guarding the Jail cells of Tihar.Family members said that Shahid was not only abused but mercilessly thrashed by Tamil Nadu Force inside Tihar jail on November 21.

According to family members, the counsel for Shahid was shocked to see his condition when he visited him in Tihar jail. Shahid has suffered injuries in his head and shoulder.

All Parties Huriyat conference, has expressed deep concern over “miserable condition” of Kashmiris detainees lodged in Tihar jail and urged international human rights groups to take serious note of it.

In a statement issued on 27 November, Hurriyat said, “the woeful tale of miseries and tortures of the Kashmiri prisoners in Tihar Jail is a serious concern for us as authorities in Tihar unnecessarily harass and thrash detainees on one pretext or the other.”

Hurriyat urged the International Red Cross and Amnesty International to “take note of pathetic condition of political detainees and impress upon India to shun its callous attitude towards detainees (besides) use influence for immediate release of all detainees”.

Earlier, on 25 November, blaming authorities in Delhi, puppet administration and judiciary for their apathetic and biased approach towards prisoners, Syed Ali Geelani had said that these prisoners are meted out with ill-treatment and their basic rights denied and trampled.

The Kashmiri detainees who were assaulted in Tihar include Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Merajuddin, Eyaz Akbar, Shahidul Islam, Naeem Ahmad Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar. Peer Saifullah was operated in Apollo Hospital for brain tumour where doctors advised his continuous monitoring by doctors but this was denied and his condition is deteriorating in jail.

Also thrashed by the Tihar guards were Muslim youth accused of alleged association with ISIS. These include Suhail Ahmad, Ubaidullah Khan and Imran Ahmad who also have complained to the special court looking into their case about their torture  and ill-treatment by Tihar guards.