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Amnesty pleads for ending solitary confinement of Mumbai terror suspect, govt says "no", cites security reasons

Ansari
By Our Representative
In a statement which is likely to turn controversial in India, one of the world’s top-most human rights organizations, Amnesty International, has pitched for ending the solitary confinement of Zabiuddin Ansari, suspected of planning and coordinating the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. His health is said to be deteriorating after he decided to be on a wet hunger strike on August 5, which continues till date.
In support its argument, Amnesty has cited the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states that solitary confinement for over 15 consecutive days amounts to prolonged confinement and should be prohibited.
“The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has said that prolonged solitary confinement can cause severe mental pain or suffering, and can amount to torture or other ill-treatment”, Amnesty said, adding, “India’s Supreme Court has ruled that solitary confinement can violate the right to life and personal liberty recognized by the Constitution.”
Ansari was arrested in June 2012, and is facing trial on charges of planning and coordinating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 164 people and wounded over 300. "Since August 5, he has been on a wet hunger strike (taking liquids but not food) protesting against his indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement at the Mumbai Central Prison", said Amnesty.
Ansari has been variously described as an Indian national and an Islamic fundamentalist/terrorist, belonging to Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). His name was reportedly listed in the "50 most wanted criminals sheltered in Pakistan" released by India on 21 May 2011.
One who served as the handler of the 10 LeT terrorists during 2008 Mumbai attacks, Ansari Ais also an accused in several cases such as the Ahmedabad railway station blast case of February 19, 2006 and the Aurangabad arms haul case of May 2006.He was deported from Saudi Arabia on June 25, 2012.
Amnesty quotes Ansari’s lawyers as saying his health is “deteriorating” and that he is “extremely weak and cannot walk without support.” They confirmed, Ansari has been asking jail authorities to remove him from isolation.
Brushing aside Ansari’s plea, the Maharashtra government has that the solitary confinement is necessary to “ensure” Ansari’s safety. Ansari has been in the Mumbai Central Prison ever since he was captured, and has been held in solitary confinement in pretrial detention for over two years and eight months.
In August 2013, Ansari petitioned the Bombay High Court in order to end his solitary confinement, Amnesty said, adding, the court rejected his plea, stating that the prison management was authorized to take any steps they thought necessary in the interest of the safety and security of prisoners.
On September 4, Ansari petitioned the Supreme Court, where he stated that he is being detained in a cell without windows, illuminated only by a high-voltage electric bulb that is never switched off, making the cell seem like a “furnace”.
Amnesty wants people to immediately write in English or any other language, urging the authorities that Ansari’s solitary confinement should end, and ensure he is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.
The organization also wants the state government “to ensure that he receives any medical attention he may require and has access to an independent doctor of his choice.”
Amnesty wants signatories to send their appeals to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis before November 9, 2015, either in writing to the Mantralaya, or through email to chiefminister@maharashtra.gov.in, with copies to BM Bhosle, Mumbai Central Prison (Arthur Road Jail); and to diplomatic representatives accredited to different countries.

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