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NHRC orders high-level probe following alleged torture, forced conversion of SIMI undertrials in Bhopal jail

By Our Representative
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), taking a serious view of complaints into unprecedented torture and solitary confinement of 21 undertrials in Bhopal jail, has asked the DIG (investigation) to constitute a team of officers under a senior superintendent of police to conduct an on-the-spot investigation and submit a report at the “earliest”.
Calling the complaint it has received from Nazma Bi and nine others, most of them residents of district Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, and are relatives of the undertrials, “a matter of concern”, NHRC has ordered an “impartial enquiry”, saying the issues are “serious” and include “confinement of under-trial prisoners in solitary cells, non-supply of food, denial of medical treatment, inhuman behavior on the part of jail officials towards these under-trial prisoners and so on.”
Apart from the relatives of the undertrials, the NHRC took into account complaints it received from Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and other human rights defenders, who submitted their complaint to NHRC chairman Justice (retd) HL Dattu.
Giving details of the complaints, the NHRC states, all the prisoners “are the members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and are facing trial in different criminal cases”, they are being allegedly “subjected to physical and mental torture, after the incident of jail break occurred on October 31, 2016, when eight undertrials escaped from the judicial custody and were later killed in encounter with the police.”
The order quotes one of the undertrials, Mohd. Iqrar, as saying that on April 26, 2017, during video conferencing he had told the sessions court that he was being beaten up by the jail officials “daily after the incident of jail break occurred” and was being “forced to shout anti-religion slogans”, adding, his beard was “forcefully trimmed by jail officers”. He apprehended, the jail officials might kill him inside the jail.
Yet another undertrial, Inamur Rehman, is quoted as telling his brothers-in-law on May 5, 2017, when they had gone to meet him in the jail, that he was being beaten up by jail officials, adding, he was being offered extremely small quantity of food and water and there were injuries inflicted on him “by blunt objects on his body.” Rehman made an affidavit, submitted to the sessions court, on May 6, 2017 regarding this.
A third undertrial, Abu Fazal, says the order, said that, during video conferencing, he deposed before the court that he was being “physically tortured and also being forced to convert from his religion.”
NHRC notes, “Kalid Ahmed, Mohd. Irfan, Zubair Nagori, Mohd. Javed and other co-prisoners have more or less same grievance that they are being physically tortured and being deprived of food, water and basic daily need items.”
Thus, “Mohd. Zubair, Mohd. Adil, Mohd. Irfan, Sajid alias Guddu have alleged that they are being kept under solitary confinement, without any break”, says NHRC, adding, “Adil Wahid, Mohd. Aziz, Habib and Sazid have submitted their complaints to the State Human Rights Commission, on December 16, 2016”, regretting, “the State Human Rights Commission has not taken cognizance of their complaint.”

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