PUCL Bulletin, May 2001

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand:
Yet Another Custodial Death

Dear Sir,
And this time it is in Saraikela, West Singhbhum, Jharkhand State.
Ganesh Tude (31) was lodged in jail custody a few months ago as an undertrial prisoner. He fell ill while in custody. Due to inhuman and unhealthy condition of Saraikela Jail and total absence of medical facilities, his condition gradually deteriorated. He was removed to Saraikela Hospital in a critical condition on 27th February 2001. The physician in Saraikela Hospital immediately referred him to MGM Medical Hospital at Jamshedpur on the same day in a condition when his death was imminent. Ganesh Tudu breathed his last on the way before any treatment could be given.

On March 1, a Board of Doctors conducted autopsy at MGM Hospital in presence of the Executive Magistrate, Sri Anjani Kumar Misra. Marks of injury were visible in one side of his head and presence of blood was detected in the mouth. The viscera has been collected and stored to be sent to Ranchi for Pathological Test to ascertain the exact reasons for death.
It is pathetic that police and government authorities could not trace his family members and the dead body was disposed of without the knowledge of his family.

Saraikela jail leads the list in custodial deaths in the twin district of Singhbhum. A study from 1995 onwards reveals that on an average one prisoner die every alternate month. They were made to die because of the following reasons: -

Ill fed and undernourished. Those who cannot pay are even starved.
Inhuman and cruel physical as well as mental torture by the Jail STAFF AND 'Dabang' criminals known as 'writer'. These 'Danbang' criminals extort money acting on behalf of the jail authorities.

Total absence of medical facilities. Jail doctors treat those who can pay.

Doctors even give false certificates, refer the rich, and well-to-do prisoner even to outside hospital. And others are left to die without any treatment whatsoever.

A worst kind of vicious circle exists in jail. The corrupt authority collect huge sums from the prisoners. In case of custodial deaths, exchange of money goes round for 'Managing' local Police, autopsy Doctors, the executive magistrate or other investigating officer and even the video man and so on. The wicked & long arms of jail authorities can even 'manage' other high-ups who may include even Ministers.

There have been cases in the past when the dead body of the prisoners were thrown out from Jail on the river bank for animals to feast on. News clippings from different press reports are enclosed.

In the recent years, National Human Rights Commission has made most commendable efforts in bringing about much needed reform in jails. Intervention and action by NHRC against specific charges, the condition in jails have resulted in noticeable improvement for some short periods and then after some time it slides back to the same old pattern and practices. Those who are supposed to visit jail regularly as a part of their government duty either do not care to do it or does it in a casual manner and just put their signature in the register having done their duty without seeing the actual condition of the jail and the vicious corrupt practices prevailing inside the jails.

We strongly feel that until the culprit Jail authorities are brought to book and given salutatory and exemplary punishment, things will not improve.

-- For PUCL Jamshedpur (S. Bhattacharjee), President & Member, National Council

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