Delhi’s Karkardooma court has directed the Tihar Jail authorities to change the staff who student activist Gulfisha Fatima had accused of harassing her. Gulfisha, an under-trial lodged in Tihar Jail after being arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has complained to the court that she was being subjected to communal slurs and mental harassment by the prison staff.
According to news reports, additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat noted that this seemed to be the case of an argument between the jail staff and Gulfisha and “it is a version of the applicant (Gulfisha) Vs version of the jail staff” and that the Jail Superintendent has conducted an inquiry, he was quoted by a report in the Outlook. The judge ordered: “In the facts of the case, I deem it fit, without getting into the allegations/denial of allegations, to instruct the Jail Superintendent to ensure that if need be, to change the ward of the applicant or change the staff on duty or other steps that he deems fit to avoid any confrontation.”
The court added that if Gulfisha had grievances about any offence being committed against her, she may file a complaint before the jurisdictional magistrate. She had, through her counsel advocate Mehmood Pracha, alleged that she was being subjected to abusive and communal slurs by the jail staff, which caused her mental and emotional harassment.
Pracha had sought action against the official. “I have a problem in jail. Ever since I was brought here I have been constantly facing discrimination by the jail staff. They called me a ‘educated terrorist’ and are hurling communal slurs at me. I am facing mental harassment here. If I hurt myself, only jail authorities will be responsible for it,” she had alleged in her earlier complaint.
According to news reports, Tihar Jail Superintendent had earlier told the court that Gulfisha was allegedly being “aggressive” and had “misbehaved with the prison staff” on several occasions. The jail authorities had stated she had been given correctional punishments for that, adding that to prevent any further unpleasantness, the duty of the staff, against whom allegations were raised, were changed from the ward.
Gulfisha Fatima, who has been in custody since February 2020 in the Delhi riots case made these submissions before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat when she was produced through video conferencing during the hearing of the case last month. In the chargesheet, which discusses the conspiracy behind the Delhi riots, the police has claimed that “on January 8, Tahir Hussain had met Umar Khalid and Khalid Sai at Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest. Meetings subsequently also took place in the PFI office in Jamia nagar where Khalid Sai instigated Tahir.”
“WhatsApp groups were used by conspirators for violence in Seelampur Jafrabad area. There were 25 protest sites. 25 WhatsApp groups were especially created for each. The impression was given that they were anti-CAA protest groups but through these sites conspirators were being guided,” said the police.
The Jail authorities had told the court that, as on October 15, 48 Muslim women inmates were lodged in Central Jail number 6, where Gulfisha was lodged, and none of them made any such complaints, adding that an inquiry, revealed that both Gulfisha as well as the staff complained against each other. They stated that all those involved were heard and counselled to follow the jail rules and maintain discipline inside the jail.
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