NHRC Orders Investigation Into Complaints of Torture in Bhopal Central Jail

NHRC orders investigation into the complaints of torture in the Bhopal Central Jail


The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) ordered a sup moto inquiry into allegations of torture by undertrial inmates of the  Bhopal Central Jail. The Order was made today.

On Thursday, May 25, undertrial activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India(SIMI) have had their beards forcibly shaved in Bhopal's New Central Jail and are being compelled to chant "anti-Islamic slogans", their families have told the National Human Rights Commission. The Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) facilitated their complaints before the NHRC.

The NHRC Order dated May 26, 2017 to provide some respite to the under-trial prisoners in Bhopal's New Central Jail. After repeated pleas made by civil activist groups, wives and relatives of the 21 under-trial prisoners in Bhopal's New Central Jail, the NHRC has finally ordered the DIG (I) of the Commission to form a committee headed by the SSP to conduct a spot investigation of the issue and submit a report at the earliest. Sabrangindia had reported on the delegation meeting the NHRC.

The apex human rights authority in the country has heard the appeals made by the hapless families of the under-trial prisoners who are being tormented and subjected to mass human rights violations. They are being kept in solitary confinement without food, water, medical aid. They are routinely being thrashed, tortured, humiliated as they are forced to shout anti-Islamic slogans and their beards are being shaven. The atrocities have touched such a peak that one of them has become partially blind.

The Order in its conclusion reads:

“If the contents of the complaint and its annexures thereto, are believed to be true, it is certainly a matter of concern for the Commission, which demands an impartial enquiry. There are a number of serious issues like the confinement of Under-Trial Prisoners in solitary cells, non-supply of food, denial of medical treatment, inhuman behaviour on the part of jail officials towards these Under-Trial Prisoners and so on. The matter has been thoughtfully considered by the Commission and it is of the view that true facts need to be ascertained in the first instance. The DIG (I) of the Commission is requested to constitute a team of officers, headed by an SSP to conduct an on the spot investigation and submit their report at the earliest in respect of the truth or otherwise of the allegations made in the complaint.”

At the start the NHRC registered the case as case number 1126/12/8/2017, Dairy number 77871/CR/2017.

The rest of the Order at the beginning, reads

"A representation has been received from Ms. Nazma Bi and nine others, most of them residents of district Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. They are relatives of 21 Under Trial Prisoners who are lodged in the Bhopal jail. All these prisoners are the members of the SIMI organization and are facing trial in different criminal cases. The applicants have alleged that all these 21 Under Trial Prisoners are being subjected to physical and mental torture, after the incident of jail break occurred on 31.10.2016, when 8 Under Trial Prisoners had escaped from the judicial custody and were later killed in encounter with the police. It is mentioned that the individuals have been raising their grievances before the Court but no action on their complaints has been taken. As stated, on 26.04.2017, one of the Under Trial Prisoners, Mohd. Iqrar during video conferencing stated before the Sessions Court that he is being beaten up by the jail officials, daily after the incident of jail break occurred. He is forced to shout anti-religion slogans and his beard has also been forcefully, trimmed by the jail officers. He expressed apprehension that the jail officials may kill him inside the jail. Another Under Trial Prisoner, Inamur Rehman has told his brothers- in-law on 05.05.2017, when they had gone to meet him in the jail, that he is being beaten up by the jail officials, very less food and water is being provided to him and there are injuries inflicted by blunt objects on his body. The statement of Inamur Rehman on an affidavit was submitted to the Sessions Court, on 06.05.2017. Abu Fazal, one of the Under Trial Prisoners, during video conferencing has deposed before the Court that he is being physically tortured and also being forced to convert from his religion. Kalid Ahmed, Mohd. Irfan, Zubair Nagori, Mohd. Javed and other co-prisoners have more or less same grievance that they are being physically tortured and being deprived of food, water and basic daily need items. Mohd. Zubair, Mohd. Adil, Mohd. Irfan, Sajid @ Guddu have alleged that they are being kept under solitary confinement, without any break. It is also mentioned that Under Trial Prisoners, Adil Wahid, Mohd. Aziz, Habib and Sazid have submitted their complaints to the State Human Rights Commission, on 16.12.2016, but the State Human Rights Commission has not taken cognizance of their complaint. One of the prisoners, Mohd. Irfan has alleged that he requires immediate treatment of his right eye but the jail authorities are not providing him any treatment. He has further mentioned that now he is not able to see from his right eye and the sight in the left eye is also deteriorating. He has sent a complaint to the Chief Justice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 16.01.2016. Upon perusal, it emerges that all these Under Trial Prisoners are allegedly being physically and mentally tortured in judicial custody. They are not being provided basic amenities and health care facilities. They are being kept in solitary confinement and not being allowed to meet their relatives for more than five minutes. It is also mentioned that the jail officials always remain present when the relatives of these prisoners visit them, in the jail. Apart from this, the Commission has also received a communication, raising the same issue from Ms. Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union of Civil Liberties and other Human Rights Defenders, associated with different organizations."

On May 24, a collective of organisaitons  met the NHRC on the case of torture of the 21 prisoners in Bhopal caught in various cases related to SIMI, in Dec 2013. They were a total of 29 undertrials. of which 8 were killed in the fake encounter that happened on 31st Oct, 2016 in bhopal. 21 are left behind in Bhopal central jail and one convicted from Karnataka. Justice Murugesan of the NHRC gave the delegation a hearing.

Last year, in November 2016, the sudden killings, after 'jail breaks' as claimed by the Bhopal Central authorities and police had drawn nation wide outrage as eight undertrial prisoners had been shot dead in cold blood, on the eve of their likely acquittal from a court.

Related Articles:

1. What the Bhopal jailbreak, killings teach us: Patriotism isn't blind obedience to the government
2. Rakesh Sharma Demolishes The Script of M.P Police on Bhopal Encounter
3. The brazen Bhopal encounter killing is linked to the bogey of SIMI in Madhya Pradesh: JTSA




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