Rajasthan: PUCL condemns killing of 22 year-old jailed prisoner, demands payment of Rs 50 lakhs compensation & independent inquiry into incident

Protesting the death of 22 year old-Sajid, incarcerated in Rajasthan’s Bikaner jail, the PUCL has demanded an independent inquiry into the incident and payment of Rs 50 lakhs in compensation

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has, in a strongly worded statement, condemned the government of Rajasthan, Home Department, and the State jail authorities at all levels, for having not protected the life and liberty and giving a safe space to 22 year old Sajid, who was lodged in Bikaner Jail, u/s 308, IPC (attempt at culpable homicide).

In a statement issued by Bhanwar Meghwanshi, president, Rajasthan PUCL, Anant Bhatnagar, secretary and Pragnya Joshi, PUCL Rajasthan Jail Initiative Coordinator, the civil liberties platform has demanded comprehensive accountability from jail authorities.

Sajid was reportedly killed by a 40–45-year-old sec 302 convicted prisoner, Budhram, a patient of depression and had been put into a restricted access, special ward with 17 other prisoners, which included Sajid. Budhram picked up a stone slab covering a water drain in the barrack and smashed the head of Sajid in the early hours of  November 15.

This murder in Bikaner Jail should have sent shock waves in all the prisons of Rajasthan, with the 25,000 population of prisoners feeling extremely unsafe as such a murder is a serious compromise in the systems of safety and security put into place by the Bikaner Jail authorities and the state Jail authorities. Immediate counselling is needed for the prisoners who were in that Barrack and in the rest of the Jail says the PUCL statement.

Mental Health of Prisoners mostly neglected in Jails of Rajasthan

This incident clearly shows the failure of proper care of mentally disturbed patients by the Bikaner Prison authorities. This incident could have been avoided if proper medication and care protocols were taken care of. The PUCL through its jail monitoring work is aware that patients with depression or mentally disturbed ailments hardly undergo proper screening and medication.

It is well known that the jails of Rajasthan are mostly devoid of psychiatrists in the Jail hospitals, so was the case here. Our Jail for the last two decades or more in Rajasthan has shown that Patients are taken rather infrequently to the City hospital and their medication is also irregular.

What is shocking is that ten years ago in 2013 too, a mentally disturbed patient had killed  three prisoners, with almost the same tool, which was a brick.

Similarly in Jaipur jail in February 2019 a Pakistani prisoner was also stoned to death by inmates. 

What have the jail authorities learnt from these incidents which were serious lapses of safety protocols? Asks the statement.

Lack of sufficient staff due non appointments

This incident also shows the failure of the state to meet even the minimum standards of staffing in our state jails. The deficit in Bikaner at the constabulary level is 50 %, it is almost one constable manning two wards, making protection of prisoners, if fights broke out between prisoners practicably impossible. This, states the PUCL statement, is a serious lapse of the state in provisioning safety for prisoners. The total deficit in Rajasthan is 25 % of the required staff according to the NCRB data. Why are budgets of Jails not raised by governments?

Deaths due to Custodial violence in Rajasthan are high. According to a TOI news report,  in response to a question asked by the BJP MLA Satish Poonia, more than 159 prisoners had died in Jails in Rajasthan, ( 80 Prisoners died in 2021 and 79 in 2022). Of which magisterial enquiry into the death of only 52 prisoners had been completed till March 2023 under section 176 CrPC. Until now nobody has been charged with any breach in rules leading to death. Rajasthan has as many as 25,000 prisoners  in jails.

The PUCL demands

  • a compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to the family of Sajid as he was killed for no crime of his doing.
  • an independent enquiry of academics and other citizens, into this murder in Bikaner Jail so that all angles including the communal angle can be examined.
  • the immediate appointments of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in all jails including adherence to care protocols for all mentally disturbed prisoners.
  • Immediate appointment of the deficit Jail Staff needs to be done and it should be a priority of the next Government.



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