Branded 'Terrorists', Beaten by Inmates, Untreated: How Delhi Riots Accused Are Faring in Jail

Ishrat Jahan, for one, has said she was beaten up by fellow inmates when she attempted to pray in the morning. The Mandoli Jail authorities have agreed with her account.

New Delhi: Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan alleged in court on Tuesday that she was beaten brutally by inmates of the Mandoli jail where is is lodged and continues to face harassment in prison. Jahan is not the only accused in the Delhi riots cases – investigation into which is already a matter of deep controversy – who has said that she has been severely mistreated in jail.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat’s court on Tuesday saw accounts of beatings, sustained harassment, serious injuries and authorities’ consistent ineffectiveness in cases where they were not the ones perpetrating the violence on the accused.

Advocate Rizwan, appearing for co-accused and suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain has claimed that most of the accused in the north-east Delhi riots cases were facing discrimination in prison, either by the inmates or jail authorities. He further alleged that the accused – among whom the most well known are Muslims – have been declared as “terrorists” before conclusion of the trial.

“Jail authorities behave adversely with them. Proper monitoring by the court is important in the cases, specially the conspiracy case in which the accused have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” Rizwan said.

The following are the most recent complaints presented by the lawyers of the Delhi riots accused in jail.

Ishrat Jahan

Jahan, who had said earlier that she was seriously ill, has requested to be shifted to Tihar in the face of sustained abuse.

“This is the second incident in a month. In the morning today at 6:30 am, they (inmates) beat me badly and abused me verbally. One of the inmates even slit her hand so that I am punished on a false complaint. Fortunately, the jail officials did not listen to them. I have given a written complaint also. They keep calling me a terrorist. They also demanded money from me in the canteen,” Jahan alleged, making submissions directly to the court.

She further alleged that she has been facing harassment in jail for the past four months.

Also read: Delhi Court Denies Ishrat Jahan’s Plea for Bail Over Spine Injury, COVID-19 Outbreak in Jail

Advocate Pradeep Teotia, appearing for Jahan, further alleged that previously also she was beaten up by her inmates, following which one of the inmates was shifted to another jail.

“One of the inmates beat her up badly previously. A complaint was filed before the Deputy Superintendent and that inmate was shifted to another jail. There are two ladies in her prison cell who beat her up today. While she was offering her morning prayers, they objected to it and started abusing her and beating her,” Teotia alleged.

Advocate Misbah Bin Tariq, who was also present at the hearing, requested the court to take immediate action and view her situation with urgency as Jahan was a member of the advocates’ Bar.

Former Congress municipal councillor Ishrat Jahan. Photo: Ishrat Jahan Facebook

Jahan further said she was suffering from serious medical conditions for which she has not been taken to a hospital, nor were any tests conducted.

Additional Sessions Judge, Amitabh Rawat, directed the jail authorities to take immediate steps to ensure Jahan’s security and that she was not harassed further, before bringing her complaints before the court.

The court sought a detailed report from the prison authorities, on Wednesday, on the steps that have been taken to address the issue and to also state if shifting to her to another jail was required.

When the judge asked the Assistant Superintendent of Mandoli jail whether such an incident has occurred, she confirmed it and said “necessary steps have been taken.”

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To this the judge said, “She (Jahan) seems to be in a state of utter fear. Please talk to her immediately and understand the situation. File a detailed report about the steps taken to allay her apprehension and her fear…Take all the necessary steps. Take immediate steps. I don’t want to hear that the accused was further harassed by her inmates or anybody else because she complained. I do not want to hear that the present accused is harmed in any way.”

It also directed the prison authorities to produce her before the court on Wednesday through video conferencing.

Tanveer Malik

Malik, arrested in the case related to the communal violence in Dayalpur area in February this year, had alleged that he was beaten up badly by Mandoli prison officials on December 8 and he was not taken to the hospital for medical examination.

He had further alleged that he has not been given any food and the jail officials have been threatening him to enter into a compromise otherwise they would make his life difficult inside the prison.

However, in a report filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dinesh Kumar on December 18, jail authorities stated that Malik’s injuries were caused when “prison officials tried to pacify him as he allegedly got violent.”

They further said that Malik had made “false, mischievous allegations to gain sympathy.”

The authorities have alleged that Malik allegedly became violent and started misbehaving with prison staff during a frisking operation for mobile phones.

“There was no reason for him to panic and create ruckus in the barrack if he had nothing to reveal/ hide. This prompted the Jail Staff to be suspicious and accordingly took him to the Internal Control Centre/ Chakkar for further investigation into the matter.

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“There at Control Centre, during the course of questioning, he became violent and started making loud derogatory and filthy allegations against the prison staff. In order to pacify/ control him, he was reprimanded. In the melee, he fell down and resultantly injured his toe.

“He was taken to the hospital and provided requisite medical care/ treatment/dressing,” the report alleged.

The incident came to light when advocate Salim Malik, appearing for the accused, informed the court on December 8 that Tanveer has been allegedly beaten inside the jail and was badly injured.

Asif Iqbal Tanha

Another accused in the case, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, claimed that his family members have been trying to meet him through video conferencing but their requests have not been approved. Tanha also alleged that he has been repeatedly called “terrorist” in prison.

Tanha’s counsel, advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, said previously when several of the accused had said that they were not being given basic amenities in prison, the court had sought a report from the jail authorities but the report had not been filed yet.

The judge had, on November 3, said he would go and inspect the situation physically if things did not improve. However,  apparently convinced that all grievances were taken care of by the jail authorities, the judge did not go for a physical inspection.

Umar Khalid

Co-accused Umar Khalid told the court that even after a month, a soft copy of the charge sheet against him had not been supplied to him. The judge asked his counsel to move an application before the Tihar prison authorities, where Khalid is lodged, to allow access to the soft copy.

(With PTI inputs)