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Torture of Muslim inmates: Muslim Forum visits Jaipur Jail, demands suspension of officials

By TwoCircles.net Staff Correspondent,

New Delhi: The Rajasthan Muslim Forum, an alliance of leading Muslim bodies of Rajasthan, has demanded suspension of Jaipur Jail authorities for beating up Muslim inmates on the day of Eid and not allowing them to offer the special annual prayers. The group made the demand after visiting the jail and meeting the victim inmates.

The Muslim Forum was informed on 23rd September by the family members of the 13 jail inmates, that on 21 September 2009, the day of Eidul-Fitr, the inmates were not allowed to pray with other prisoners, beaten up by the jail employees and other prisoners and the holy books were desecrated.

After receiving the complaint, a six-member delegation, including the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s State Chief, Engineer Muhammad Saleem, Mr. Abdul Lateef Arco, Mr. M Mahir Azad (Ex MLA), Mr. Imamuddeen, Mr. M Nazimuddeen and Mr. Naeemuddeen from Kota, Met the jail authorities and visited the prison to find out the facts.

The delegation met Mr. Omendra Bhardwaj, director General of Prisons of the state. He informed to the delegation “we have also got this kind of complaint, we are taking it seriously and trying to find out the fact”. The delegation requested the DG to let them meet some of the victims and find out the facts which he accepted and instructed the jail superintendent to arrange for this meeting.

The delegation visited the Jail, Superintendent of Jail Mrs. Preeta Bhargav arranged to meet three of the victims in her chamber. The victims, Munawwar Husain, Nazakat Ali and Dr. Taufeeq Qureshi, narrated the incident and showed raw scars on their bodies made by the beating. The delegation interrogated each of them separately.

According to them, on 21 September 2009, it was Eidul-Fitr when the inmates requested the jailor to allow them to pray with other prisoners on the holy occasion, the Jailor bluntly denied them of their right. Usually, they were allowed out of their poorly ventilated cells from 12:00 in the noon till 3:00 o’clock, they said. That day, being the day of Eid, they requested for some more time, which was also refused strongly. They asked the jailor to take their request to the higher authorities, over this jail authorities got annoyed and ordered them to get back into their cells. They returned to their cells and were locked up.

After 5:00 pm, when some of these inmates were praying Asr Namaaz (the prayer before evening), about 5-6 policemen and 10-12 other prisoners led by the Jailor and the Deputy Jailor equipped with sticks and batons, opened the cells and dragged them out beating mercilessly. Some of them were dragged out exactly in the position of prayer. According to them, some of the assailants resorted to search their cells and threw the Holy Quran and other religious books on the floor and desecrated by walking on them. The inmates requested the jailor and the deputy jailer to stop the desecration of the holy books but they did not respond and this continued for some time.

The inmates told the delegation that all of the prisoners around 13 in number, accept 2 or 3, were beaten up and same thing happened to all of them. They also gave shocking information that after a week of Eidul Fitr, on 9th October last year, they were beaten up mercilessly, blindfolded and their bodies covered with blankets and they couldn’t know who the assailants were. According to them all this continued for 15-20 days. Moreover, they were forced to raise objectionable slogans against their faith and utter defaming words against Islam. They didn’t complain that time about it, because they were too much terrified, they said. In the presence of the delegation, two of the victims Munawwar Husain and Nazakat Ali wrote the above details to the DG Jails seeking justice and take strict action against the jail authorities.

Another serious fact that came out during the interrogation was that some of the jail officials and other people use to call these inmates “Bomb Blast Waale” (people who have committed bomb blasts), while they are still under trial and the court has not even framed any charges against them, this is objectionable. According to them, some of the prison officials and employees spread hatred about the victims among other prisoners, which clearly indicates the communal mindset of some of the jail officers, they expressed their concern about their security as their lives are constantly under threat. After the recent incident their safety and security are at stake, they said. They have also demanded in writing, assurance of their safety and security.

The Rajasthan Muslim Forum held a press conference on the issue on 26th September 2009, which was addressed by Engineer Muhammad Saleem, and Mr. Paiker Farooq, while Mr. Abdul Lateef Arco, Mr. Imamuddeen, Mr. M Nazimuddeen and mother of one of the victims, Mohammad Ilyas of Baran were also present.

By this investigation the Forum has reached to the conclusion that the incident of beating of these prisoners has taken place and, the holy books have also been desecrated in the name of search.

“In our opinion, this is a serious matter, especially the communal mindset and prejudiced and hostile behavior of some of the jail officers and workers against these prisoners is a clear violation of human rights and jail rules and regulations,” said Dr. M. Iqbal Siddiqui, State Media Secretary, Jamaat-E-Islami Hind, Rajasthan.

On the same day when the DGP Jails was contacted, he mentioned that a departmental investigation committee has been formed under Inspector General of Police (Jails) Dr. Hemant Purohit. He also informed that the Jailor and Deputy Jailor have been transferred to other Jails in the state.

“We also think that the action taken in this matter, i.e. transferring the jailor Ashok Gaur to Ajmer and deputy jailor Bhairon Singh to Udaipur shows that the jail authorities are not taking this matter seriously. Our demand is to suspend the jailor and the deputy jailor and judicial probe of the incident be ordered.”

“We are of the opinion that this incident is just a glimpse of violation of human rights, anarchy and mismanagement in the jail, the actual situation is much more severe. If this is not checked in time, grave circumstances may occur any time. The forum is also of the opinion that the condition in which these prisoners are kept is miserable and inhuman.”

“The ten accused from Kota, one from Baran and two from Jodhpur are under judicial custody and no charges have been framed against them till date,” said Mr. Paiker Farooq, a Rajasthan high court lawyer. According to him it is government’s duty to provide them security and make arrangements for them so that they may offer prayers according to their faith.

Rajasthan Muslim Forum is looking forward for some satisfactory measures on the part of the government and the administration, or else the Forum will help the victims in seeking legal assistance and file criminal cases against the culprit officials, besides mass awareness campaign will be launched regarding the incident in collaboration with human rights organizations.