Letter regarding Custodial Torture and Human Rights Violation of 21 Under-Trial Prisoners in Bhopal Jail

To,

Justice (Retd.) D. Murugesan,

Member, National Human Rights Commission,

Manav Adhikar Bhawan,

Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,

New Delhi – 110023

 

Respected Justice (Retd.) H.L. Dattu,

We are writing to you to express grave concern and seek immediate intervention of the Hon’ble Commission in the cases of custodial torture and human rights violations of the 21 Under-Trial (UT) Prisoners in Bhopal Jail. These 21 UTs are alleged to be members of SIMI and charged with various cases. Several instances of torture and inhuman treatment have been reported to have been meted out to them since October 31, 2016, when eight other UTs were killed in an encounter.

The facts of the cases are attached in the petition submitted by the family members and relatives of the 21 UTs. However, we would like to draw Hon’ble Commission’s attention through highlighting some specific cases.

Mohd. Iqrar: Complained of repeated physical torture with injuries on head, thighs and hips. Beard forcefully cut and forced to chant anti-Islam slogans. Fears for his life in Bhopal jail. Locked-up in barracks without respite

Abu Fazal: Complained of repeated physical torture resulting in leg fracture. Being forced to chant anti- Islamic slogans and convert religion. Tortured and beaten during prayers and forced to wake up after every two hours of sleep. Locked-up in barracks without respite Jail authorities are repeatedly threatening to kill him and MohdIkrar or urging them to kill themselves

Khalid Ahmed: One of the persons killed in the ‘encounter’ had, several months before his death, complained of adulterated food with drugs resulting in severe body pain.

Mohd. Adil: Complained of physical torture and mental harassment. Food served in limited quantity and basic necessities are not provided.

Sajid Hussain: Complained of mental harassment and physical torture leading to attempted suicide.  Denied medical treatment.

Irfan Nagori : Denied medical treatment for an eye ailment resulting in blindness in one eye  and deteriorating vision in the other.

While these are only a few cases to demonstrate physical torture and inhuman treatment being meted out to the 21 UTs, there are certain issues prevalent in almost all the cases. These are –

Most of these UTs are denied basic necessities, served food in limited quantities, denied meeting with their relatives; relatives kept waiting for long periods and meeting time cut short to few minutes. While brief meetings, personnel from ATS are present constantly obstructing the conversations and privacy. Even access to legal counsels is restricted and UTs can only interact with their counsels during video conferencing.Mohd Irfan, Sajid Hussain have been denied medical treatment.Submissions made by family members of Mohd. Adil, Mohd. Irfan, Mohd. Zubair and Mohd. Javed to various authorities are attached.

Most of these UTs are kept for long periods locked up in barracks, at times for days all together.

UTs who require medical treatment, in some cases also directed by the courts, completely denied by the jail authorities.

Some of these cases, though brought to the notice of the local courts where these matters are pending, the courts have not addressed any of these.

When the UTs through video conferencing or through their counsels/relatives have placed before the courts the complaints of torture and inhuman treatment, the UTs have faced reprisals and further harassments by the jail authorities. Submissions made by Imanurahman, in the case of Mohd. Iqrar and Abu Fazal, are attached.

There is a common feeling by several of these UTs that they may be killed by jail authorities. In several cases, UTs fear for their lives and fear that it will be shown as a case of suicide.

Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission has not even taken cognizance of several complaints which have been placed before them. The complaints submitted as on December 16, 2016, is attached along with the petition.

The reprisal by jail authorities is clearly demonstrated through the case of Mohd. Iqrar –

Mohd.Iqrar on April 26, 2017, through the video conferencing, submitted before the magistrate about repeated physical torture with injuries on head, thighs and hips. His beard was forcefully cut and forced to chant anti-Islam slogans. He was constantly threatened with death if he mentioned about jail conditions to the magistrate. On May 5, 2017, when Imanurahman, brother in law of Mohd. Iqrar, met Mohd. Iqrar in jail, Mohd.Iqrar complained of further torture due to his submission before the magistrate. His other brother in law, co-prisoner Abu Fazal, also confirmed this He is being forced to chant slogans such as ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and given only limited food. He is locked-up in barracks with no free movement.

Given the serious concerns pertaining to custodial torture and human rights violations, which the petition highlights, we appeal to the Hon’ble Commission to –

Under Section 12 (a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 (PHRA), enquire into the human rights violations against 21 UTs in Bhopal Jail, particularly the instances of restrictions to meet relatives and legal counsels, accessing medical treatment and basic necessities and, torture and inhuman treatment including death threats by jail authorities. NHRC should record statements of all 21 UTs in conditions in which they can speak freely and without fear of repercussions

While enquiring under Section 12 (a) of the PHRA, ensuring the independence of inquiry, only do so through Hon’ble Commission’s investigation wing or through an independent body appointed by the Hon’ble Commission, preferably NHRC’s NGO Core Group.

Through the appointment of a senior criminal lawyer, ensure trial monitoring of cases of the 21 UTs ensuring that they are allowed free and fair trial. The senior criminal lawyer, appointed by the Hon’ble Commission, should report to the Hon’ble Commission on a periodic basis.

Under Section 12 (c) of the PHRA, undertake a surprise visit to Bhopal jail to ascertain the living conditions in the jail and make appropriate recommendations to the state government.

Given that the 21 UTs have serious threats to their lives, repeated instances on cruel and inhuman torture, petition before the Supreme Court under Sections 12 (b) and 18 (b) of the PHRA to transfer the case out of Madhya Pradesh for an independent and speedy trial.

Urge that this complaint is not transferred to the Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission for disposal or routinely sent to the Commissioner of Police for investigation.

21 UTs and their family members have claimed custodial torture and inhuman treatment in Bhopal Jail. Basic necessities and rights, such as meeting family members, food, free movement, medicines and clothes are denied. Their repeated attempts to approach various authorities have failed. Given that Hon’ble Commission has the onus and the powers of protecting human rights of all individuals, including the UTs, we appeal to the Hon’ble Commission to intervene in the matters pertaining to custodial torture, inhuman treatment and human rights violations of these 21 UTs in Bhopal Jail. We appeal to the Hon’ble Commission to consider all prayers mentioned above and take appropriate steps.

Looking forward for your immediate action in this regard.

Yours Sincerely,

Kavita Srivastava, Secretary, PUCL National and N.D. Pancholi, Vice-President, PUCL National; Manisha Sethi. Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association; Sharib Ali Innocence Network; Suhail KK,  Quill Foundation; Mushfique Raza, Association for Protection of Civil Rights; Mathew Jacob, People’s Watch

 

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