JK Home Department yet to receive report
Srinagar: On the night of November 21, a team of Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP) allegedly beat up at least 18 inmates of Tihar Jail’s High Risk wards ‘C’ and ‘F’. The inmates sustained severe injuries and the Delhi High Court on Monday directed the jail authorities to take the victims for special check-up at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, in the next 48 hours.
Many of the injured prisoners were Kashmiris serving detention in Tihar Jail, among them Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.
The Delhi High Court appointed a three-member committee led by special judge Brijesh Sethi and having two other members including Delhi University professor Mrinal Satish to examine the preliminary fact-finding report submitted before it on the assault.
Even as week has passed since the incident, the Jammu and Kashmir government is yet to receive any communication in this regard. “We are yet to receive anything in writing in this regard,” said RK Goyal, J&K Home department secretary.
Giving details of the case, Advocate Chinmay Kanojia told Kashmir Reader over phone from New Delhi, “I had gone to meet Shahid, who is my client, on November 22 where he narrated the incident”.
“On November 23 I filed a petition before the court and submitted Shahid’s ‘baniyan’ (vest) before the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, who immediately formed a 3-member committee which visited the jail on the same day,” Kanojia said.
Counsel of Shahid, Advocate Jawahar Raja, told Kashmir Reader that after submission of the preliminary report, the High Court formed another special committee to examine the report. “The court directed the Tihar Jail authorities to take the victims to AIIMS, following which the new committee will start its investigations,” Raja informed.
Kanojia is an assistant to Raja in the Delhi High Court.
“They are not fine; they were beaten,” Raja said about the condition of the prisoners. One of them, Mushtaq Ahmad, could not attend the court of district and session judge Poonam A Bamba on Monday.
The preliminary fact-finding committee submitted a 20-page report before the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on Monday, along with two representations from the prisoners of Tihar Jail’s High Risk ward 1, and also a CD containing the CCTV footage.
“There was an alarm in Tihar Jail’s High Risk ward 1 on the night of November 21,” the report said. During the routine search of the High Risk ward, done twice a day, the prisoners had objected to withdrawal of pillow covers from them. The committee was informed about this during a brief meeting in the office of Additional IG, Raj Kumar.
“The incident was the result of some arguments between the prisoners and the search team which comprised the personnel of the Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP),” the report said, quoting minutes of the meeting.
One of the victims, the report said, was identified as Shahid Yousuf, whose vest was submitted before the Chief Justice when the petition was filed.
“Shahid was found housed in Cell C-9(1) and was injured,” the committee said in its report.
“The search team came around 8:30 pm on 21/11/2017 and carried out intensive and vigorous search of their cell under the supervision of Mr Muthu Pandi, SI, TSP,” the report quoted Shahid as having informed the committee members. “After completing the search, the team locked the Cell from outside and went away.”
The report further said, “…after about 15 minutes of the search team leaving the Cell, C-9, they initially heard loud noises from outside the courtyard and thereafter an alarm was sounded.”
“He (Shahid) further said that at around 9:15 pm, the TSP personnel, who had earlier come for checking entered the ‘C’ Ward in large numbers and started beating the inmates with ‘fibre’ as well as ‘wooden’ sticks or whatever else came in their hands,” the report said.
The 42-year-old Shahid told the three-member committee that he was “hit on his head many times, consequent whereto he started bleeding from his head”.
“He also sustained injuries on his back and left hand. He complained of having pain in his left shoulder. This inmate (Shahid) informed the Committee that such an incident had not occurred earlier,” the report records.
Shahid told the committee that the ‘baniyan’ (vest) which was presented before the court was used to wipe the blood from his body after the assault. “The doctor came around 10:00/10:30 pm and gave them first-aid,” the report said.
“The essence of the statements given by the victims was common,” the report observed.
The report added that the existing TSP unit led by SI Mr Muthu was undertaking the search of C-9 cell for almost 15-20 days and even the routine searches carried out by them were always very intensive and aggressive, in as much as they turned around each and everything lying in the Cell and virtually ransack the inmates’ belongings.
“The TSP personnel, however, do not touch their religious books,” the report mentions.
It said that the jail inmates brought to notice, once in writing, of the jail authorities the aggressive checking by the TSP personnel.
According to the report, which ascribes the sequence of the events to the version given by the victim prisoners, certain loud noises were heard by the jail inmates around 9pm on November 21.
“They appeared to be the voices of the inmates of Ward ‘F’. There were loud noises as well as of the TSP personnel,” the report says. “They could not move out as the main jail was locked (but) they could make out that there was some dispute with regard to seizure of the pillow cover(s) of the inmates.”
“After some arguments for a short period of time, there was an alarm ordered by Mr Muthu Pandi, SI, officer-in-charge of the search unit. During the search of their Cell, the TSP personnel also threw three pillows from their Cell towards the open area beyond the Ward,” the report says.
The victim inmates said, “At around 9:20 pm, the TSP as well as QRT (Quick Action Team) staff entered their Cell and started beating the inmates with lathis and whatever else they could lay their hands on. Even the buckets lying in their Cells for water were used to beat up the inmates. There was no provocation for such beating from their side nor were they in any position to offer any resistance or retaliation to the beatings.”
The report said that Shahid Yousuf, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohammad Sajid and Azhar sustained injuries: “Mohammad Sajid suffered three fractures in his right hand index finger. The other inmates also suffered severe bruises on their backs and leg. Mushtaq Ahmad suffered a swollen hand and severe injury on his left leg.”
All the injured inmates were treated by the jail medical staff and there was no hospitalisation of any of the injured inmates.
The committee found that the statements of inmates of Ward ‘F’ – which has four Cells and 3-4 prisoners – were “almost identical” to the statements of prisoners of Ward ‘C’. “The only difference in their case was that their main courtyard door was unlocked which enabled them to move out in the open area when some arguments were stated to have taken place with the TSP team leader, Mr Muthu Pandi, SI,” the report says.
“They stated that they were objecting to the pillow covers being removed from their Cells which appeared to have enraged the TSP personnel who retaliated by not only beating them blue all over their bodies but also raised an alarm which resulted in the QRT also swinging into action,” the report explained.
The case has been listed for next hearing on December 18.