in Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai
(The Amnesty International has released the following report -General Secretary)
Guards have reportedly beaten and tortured inmates at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai,
and threatened reprisals if they complain to the authorities. This is reportedly
part of a sustained pattern of torture and ill-treatment in the prison.
On 19 June at about 6.30pm, two of the inmates in an overcrowded cell apparently
started fighting. A senior prison official, the Circle Officer, and other prison
officers, reportedly attacked the prisoners in the cell indiscriminately with
razors and wooden poles (lathis). There were 180 inmates in the cell, designed
to hold 50. Some 40 inmates were injured, three reportedly suffering broken bones.
Four have filed complaints in the Sessions Court.
The Circle Officer reportedly demanded money from some of the detainees and beat
them if they refused to pay. He has denied that he tortured anyone, and has said
that, "I shouted at them to stop fighting but they didn't listen. Finally
I had to open the cells to stop the fight."
The non-governmental human rights organisation Nirbhay Bano Andolan is filing
a case in the High court about the 19 June attack and general prison conditions.
The organisation has secured testimonies from inmates alleging that they were
beaten. The Circle Officer has allegedly warned the inmates not to talk to the
authorities, reportedly threatening one with "dire consequences". Lawyers
for the detainees are reportedly only allowed to meet them at court hearings.
The newspaper, Asian Age has carried a number of stories on the incident, and
its journalists have reportedly been banned from the jail since the end of June.
None of the inmates is reported to have received proper medical treatment. Inmates
say the jail officials prescribed the same medicine for all of them, regardless
of their injuries. One inmate has accused the jail officials of producing false
medical certificates when a Sessions Court Judge ordered that all the inmates
be treated at a government hospital. Only two are reported to have received the
recommended medical treatment. Amnesty International has received numerous reports
of ill treatment of prisoners by prison officials in India, where prison conditions
are often cruel, inhuman or degrading.
(PUCL Bulletin, August 2000)