Accused of Harassment, Tihar Jail Authorities Claim Gulfisha Fatima ‘Tried to Overpower’ Staff

The jail authorities were responding to the student activist's allegation that she was being abused with communal slurs by prison staff.

New Delhi: Tihar Jail authorities have told a Delhi court that Jamia Millia Islamia student Gulfisha Fatima, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the North-East Delhi riots in February, was allegedly “aggressive” and had misbehaved with the prison staff on several occasions.

The submissions were made before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat during the hearing of an application filed by Fatima alleging that she was being subjected to communal slurs and mental harassment by the prison staff.

The Tihar Jail Superintendent stated in the reply filed to the application on October 15 that she has been given correctional punishments to “mend her behaviour” earlier for allegedly misbehaving with the staff.

“The female inmate is also trying to overpower the jail staff and create nuisance in jail, her behaviour is also aggressive and troublesome. Staff has also been directed to behave politely and not to argue with the inmates. As per record the petitioner has been given correctional punishments to mend her behaviour,” the reply stated.

The superintendent further informed the court that in view of repeated complaints by Fatima and to avoid any further unpleasantness, the duty of the staff, against whom allegations were raised, have been changed from the ward.

The staff have been directed to talk to the inmates in a polite way and not to get into any argument with inmates. The duty of that staff also changed from that ward for time being to resolve the matter, the reply stated.

It further said that as on October 15, 48 Muslim women inmates were lodged in Central Jail number 6, where Fatima was lodged, and none of them made any such type of complaints.

The reply further stated that on inquiry, it was revealed that Fatima as well as the staff had made complaints against each other and hence both the parties were heard and counselled to follow the jail rules and maintain discipline inside the jail.

Also read: ‘Free Gulfisha Fatima’: Civil Society Members Condemn Student Activist’s Arrest Under UAPA

It said that two other inmates, Babita and Sheetal, who were present at the time of the incident, had stated that there was a heated argument between Fatima and the jail staff but the staff did not use any communal slur. The argument was due to the fact that the outing time for ward number 6 was over but Fatima was still outside taking water from the water cooler and despite being repeatedly told by the staff to finish fast, she came back to her jail after finishing her talk with another inmate, Babita and Sheetal said in their written statements.

Fatima, through her counsel advocate Mehmood Pracha, had alleged that she was being discriminated against by the staff in the jail. She had also made the submissions directly to the court during the hearing of the case.

“I have a problem in jail. Ever since I was brought here I have been constantly facing discrimination by the jail staff. They called me educated terrorist and are hurling communal slurs at me. I am facing mental harassment here. If I hurt myself, only jail authorities will be responsible for it,” she has alleged.

Fatima is one of several anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act student activists who has been arrested in connection with the Delhi riots. Several human rights groups have alleged that the Delhi Police, at the behest of the government, is using the riots cases to clamp down on dissent.

(With PTI inputs)