The thrashing of inmates inside the Tihar jail on Nov 21 has not only left the families of the inmates worried by the Court also reprimanded the jail authorities for beating the jail inmates without any provocation. The three member panel constituted by Delhi High court who examined the CCTV footage of the incident described it as “unilateral aggression against innocent prisoners.’’ The panel also termed it as a one sided act of violence against the jail inmates.
The panel was constituted after Syed Shahid Yusuf filed a petition in the court. The panel also rejected the defence of jail officials in which they had described that jail inmates tried to commit violence inside the jail premises. Eighteen inmates whose cases are under trial were beaten to pulp when the guards who are from Tamil Nadu police assigned on the guard duty at various cells inside the Tihar jail on pretext of checking the cells not only harassed the inmates, but thrashed them.
The beating inside the jail was even recorded on the close circuit television cameras (CCTV). Four of the inmates were from Kashmir, including younger son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin. Shahid Yusuf was arrested by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) and is lodged at Tihar jail.
The jail staff that was meant to guard the prisoners without caring for the laws of the land used all their might to subdue the inmates without any fault. The teams constituted by the court also found that jail inmates were beaten severely and some of the inmates showed the blood soaked shirts to the teams who visited the jail to investigate the matter.
Currently, hundreds of people are lodged within jails inside the J&K or outside, most of these prisoners are political prisoners so incident of that took place inside Tihar jail had serious impact in the Valley, especially the separatist leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik asked international human rights groups to take note of such incidents.
Even mainstream politicians condemned the incident that took place inside the Tihar jail. NC president, Farooq Abdullah sought shifting of all the Kashmiri prisoners to Kashmir in the backdrop of this incident. Beating of under trails raise a serious concern over the attitude meted out to the prisoners who are hundreds of miles away from their homes.
Though thrashing or torture is not a new thing and these tricks are used during the investigations, however, once the prisoners are sent to jail as per the jail manuals nobody is allowed to use force on them. Without wasting any time J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti also took serious note of this incident and spoke to union secretary, Rajiv Gauba. Chief Minister noticing the sensitivity of the issue demanded action against the guilty cops who had violated the basic law.
Even one Kashmiri who was lodged at Tihar narrated the entire episode of beating at a local court in Sopore. The prisoner Ahitesham who was brought to Sopore in connection with a case of a militant commander who was killed on the LoC recently, showed the torture marks to the judge and those present at the court. These incidents always create confusion and the bad image of the governance and the trust deficit.
The centre government should take this issue seriously and should move a step further from shifting the staff that were found guilty of beating the prisoners. In the past the jail staff or the officials who were meant to guard the prisoners and wean them away from bad influence instead of helping them started committing atrocities on the prisoners.
The basic aim of the jails is to reform the prisoners, instead of reforming the prisoners they end up making them hardcore as it has been seen that many jail officers try to target the self respect of the prisoners. In the current setup both state and the centre government should show zero tolerance towards this type of attitude and should create an atmosphere of goodwill inside the jails. As there is apprehension a single incident could trigger for series of protests.