A three-member joint delegation of two civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch and Association for Welfare, Medical and Legal Assistance (AWMELA), went on a three day visit to Jaipur to look into reported facts of beatings of Jaipur blast undertrials and those arrested in the name of terrorism. The team met Jaipur based human rights/ social organizations, the jail superintendent, Central jail, Jaipur, and the victim undertrials.
Comprising of Masihuddin Sanjari (coordinator, Rihai Manch, Azamgarh zone), Mohd Asim and Shadab Ahmad (AWMELA), the team has issued a report titled “Jaipur Central Jail: A tale of solitary confinement and brutal beating”. Text of the report:
Story of police: After the brutal beating on 30 March 2019 it was narrated to media by jail administration central jail Jaipur that the undertrials assaulted a jailor when he and his associates had gone to search high security ward No 10 with video camera. As a result he got fracture in one of his fingers. They resorted to light Lathi charge to overcome the undertrials. Meanwhile one of the undertrials wounded himself by hitting his head against the wall and the other ripped his hand with some pointed object to scare the jail administration. The administration has got a case registered against the undertrials for said offence, but the facts do not seem to verify the claims.
Series of incidents: Talks with undertrial victims, jail superintendent and members of human rights/social organizations and available documents reveal that the undertrials had gone on hunger strike against oppression in jail demanding installation of a complaint box and visit of a judge as incorporated in jail manual. Documents show that they had also written to special judge Jaipur blast cases about their demand. The facts that came to fore as a result of these talks as follows:-
After the killing of Pakistani convict Shukrullah on 20 February 2019 allegedly by don Raju Theth and his men the undertrial inmates of ward No 10 began to be kept completely locked in their cells in the unbearable heat of Rajasthan. The undertrials had objected to it, saying that they had nothing to do with that murder then why they were being tortured. The jail administration had taken action against Raju Theth and his men in the case of said murder.
The undertrials had gone on hunger strike against that kind of treatment in the last of this February but they rescinded the hunger strike on the assurance of the jail administration that the old situation would be restored. Before this, the undertrials were let out of their cells for six hours each in the morning and evening.
When after about 40 days no change was brought in their condition in restoring the previous condition, the undertrials went on hunger strike again demanding installation of complaint box and visit of a judge (so that they could easily complain of their grievances). As the hearing of Jaipur blast cases was going on daily basis, the undertrials Shahbaz Hussain, Mohd Saif, Mohd Sarvar, Mohd Salman and Saifurrehman gave an application regarding their demand to the special judge who was hearing the case.
When the said undertrials came back to jail after the hearing the Karyapal Kamlesh Sharma snatched the carbon copy of the complaint from their hands, abused them and told that it was their law that prevails in the jail. After that he went to high security ward No 10 and threatening to their life said if they dared complain against the jail authorities again they would not be able to go to court again. In the evening the night guard Ramesh Chandr Meena went to every single cell like his predecessor Kamlesh Sharma and threatening for life said to them if they kill two or three people they had to blacken only two or three papers.
On 30 March 2019 when the undertrials Shahbaz Hussain, Mohd Saif, Mohd Sarvar and Saifurrehman went for hearing in the court they gave a fresh application to learned judge apprising the him of the latest development and the judge, taking the cognizance, issued notice to the jail superintendent. Mohd. Salman had not gone to court that day because he had fallen sick.
At about 12:30 pm Karyapal Wilson Sharma, jailor Mahendra Pratap Vishnoi, Chief Karyapal Kailash Sharma, jailor Raj Mahendra Singh, Sunit Sharma, Awdhesh Sharma, Bhagwan, guard Ramesh Chandra Meena and inmate Gunna Sardar along with other jail personnel, home guards and few other inmates, about 50 in number, went to high security ward No 10 and dragged out the undertrials one by one from their cells and began to beat brutally with Lathis, iron rods and pipes.
As Salman was sick and he had not gone for hearing in the court that day but even he was not spared. When some convicts in the same ward overheard the cries of the victims they peeped out of their cells and asked the jail staff not to do that, they too, were misbehaved. Insult of religious books has also been reported during the beatings. Jailor Mahendra Pratap Vishnoi allegedly said that he was a man of mission and hurled communal abuses.
When Shahbaz, Mohd. Saif, Mohd. Sarvar and Saifurrehman returned from hearing, they also overheard cries coming from ward No 10. When they asked Karyapal Kamlesh Sharma about the same, he told them to go and see by themselves. As they moved swiftly forward they were attacked by the same people and wounded badly in the way to the high security ward No 10.
Human rights/social organizations’ jail visit: On 2 April 2019 a team of the members of human rights/social organizations of Jaipur i.e. PUCL, APCR, Samanvay Seva Sangh and eminent persons met director general jail Rajasthan NRK Reddy. He suggested the team to meet jail superintendent. Thereafter the team visited the jail and met the wounded undertrials in the presence of jail authorities.
A member of the delegation advocate Farooq Pekar told that the boys were badly wounded and blood was oozing from their wounds and there were two fractures in the hand of a boy from Seekar (Rajasthan). There was much possibility of two others having fracture in the hands and feet. The undertrials were so distressed that they had continued their hunger strike even in that condition. One of the members of the delegation Anil Goswami could not hold his tears when he saw their miserable condition.
Jail administration had first claimed of having video and CCTV footage of the incident in support of their claim but kept silent when the delegation repeatedly asked them to show footages. On the other hand, the account of the incident given by the violence victims corroborates the series of incidents that took place. The delegates persuaded them to rescind the hunger strike. Seeing the gravity of the matter advocate Farooq Pekar gave application in the court for a case to be registered from undertrials side and a medical checkup done. Only then the jail administration was compelled to get the medical checkup done.
Undeclared restriction on meetings: An undeclared restriction was imposed by jail authorities from meeting the guardians of the badly wounded undertrials. When Mohd Asim uncle of Mohd Sarvar went to Jaipur (about 850 kmts. from his native place), he was denied meeting. He had no idea of the happenings in the jail till then. He applied for the meeting and kept waiting for the whole day. At last the jail personnel at the gate asked him to go back as no meeting would take place. Later he came to know that guardians of the other undertrials had also to face similar response from the jail administration.
Meeting of the joint team with jail superintendent: The joint delegation (on visit to Jaipur) also met the jail superintendent with representatives of human rights/social organizations of Jaipur in his office. As we entered the jailor superintendent’s office we saw a board on the wall behind the jailor’s seat with “17.3.2019 ko Geeta Karyakram” (Geeta programme on 17.3.2019) written on it. He continued to assert that there were different kinds of people in jail administration. He did not have control over all of them. At times the arrogant behavior of inmates rouses instigation. It is the responsibility of the inmates to win their sentiments. He continuously skipped to talk on the demands of the undertrials and their brutal beating.
Questions arising on jail administration: Jail administration has got a case registered for assault on jailor against the violence affected undertrials wherein it is said that his finger was fractured. The jail administration has accepted of a mild Lathi charge to overcome the undertrials. It also said that one of the undertrials hit his head against the wall and another one ripped his hand with some pointed object.
But even then they did not get proper medical examination done. Place of incidents as told by violence affected are two and that told by jail administration is one. Among about 12 of the violence affected undertrials four had gone for hearing and the remaining were confined in their cells in high security zone. Allegation of assault (incitement) is over seven of them.
Then how did they attack the jailor together? Why did the jail administration not show any video or CCTV footages as they had claimed to have? Apparently, procedure of full-fledged treatment was not possible along with hunger strike. Why jail administration did not try to get the hunger strike rescinded or adopted the procedure of hospitalizing them. What was the motive of the jail administration in leaving them in that condition?
The hearing of the Jaipur blast case is in the final stages. Decision is expected soon. Only one witness remains. Elections are on and the witness happens to be a BJP’s leader. Perhaps, this is why he is not available for evidence.
Conclusion: The delegation concluded that the incident of beating in the jail was without any provocation, one-sided and pre-planned at the highest level. On the initiative of few officers the other jail personnel and inmates took active part in it. Gross negligence was done in the treatment of the wounded undertrials after the beating incident which could prove fatal. As written complaint has been filed from the side of undertrials, seeing the previous behavior of the jail administration, the chances of some happening unwanted incident are there in future.
Demand: The delegation demands the state government to make impartial inquiry into the incident and take action against the wrong doers as per law. The state govt. also needs to assure that incidents like this would not recur in the jail in future.