Jaipur: An ailing Muslim inmate who was undergoing treatment at the Sawai Man Singh (SMS) government hospital in Jaipur, was allegedly beaten to death by police guards on Friday night.
A few days before his death, 52-year-old Mohammad Ramzan, who was imprisoned in the Baran jail in Rajasthan had recorded a video stating how he was being tortured by the guards.
“They [police guards] have beaten me with a pipe at least eight times. I’m told if I’ll speak, they will meet me more,” he had alleged in the video.
Ramzan was already suffering from a liver disease and when his health deteriorated on April 20, and he was referred to SMS hospital in Jaipur. The jail authorities called Ramzan’s family to meet him; they were simply informed that he had fractured his leg. Fellow inmates that the police spoke to said that Ramzan slipped into his own urine in the hospital and fractured his leg.
However, when the family met him the next day, he told them how the guards had beaten him with a pipe following which his son recorded his statement in a video. When Rizwan, Ramjan’s son threatened the guards with a complaint, they refused to let the family to meet him.
“During my last meet, Abbaji told me that the guards don’t listen to him when he calls them to take him out for toilet. Because of this, several times, he had to urinate on bed and then they would beat him for spoiling the bed,” Rizwan told The Wire.
The family has claimed that the guards also used to abuse Ramzan over his religion. He was stopped from reading namaz or wearing their religious cap. “Whenever we used to go to meet Abbaji, these guards would abuse us, mostly to mock our appearance. They also asked for Rs 500 bribe each time we would request them to let us meet him. When I refused and complained, they started torturing my father even more,” he added.
As per officials, much of the family’s anger is due to lapses in Ramzan’s treatment and the behaviour of the guards. “The doctors at the SMS hospital had already given up on Ramzan and discharged him to be taken to the Kota medical college that has all the facilities as available in Jaipur. Guards could be rude but it is really far fetched that he was beaten up,” a senior police official said on the condition of anonymity.
An FIR has been filed against the four police guards who were on the duty that day in the SMS hospital and at New Medical College Hospital in Kota. A judicial inquiry has also been initiated.
Speaking to The Wire, Superintendent of Police, Kota Deepak Bhargava said, “We cannot comment on the matter as it’s under judicial inquiry. However, to ensure a free and fair inquiry, those four police guards have been suspended.
Ramzan had health issues when he was admitted in the jail last year. ”The lower court had pronounced four years sentence to Ramzan which was reduced to two years term after he appealed in the high court. When he was admitted to the Baran jail in August last year, his medical report pointed out serious health issues and we had ensured a perfect treatment,” Karan Singh, the jailor at the Baran jail told The Wire.
While the family alleges that Ramzan died after the police guards thrashed him, jail authorities have denied to take any responsibility. “Whatever happened with Ramzan was outside the jail premises and the guards at the hospital work under Rajasthan police, not us,” said Suman Maliwal, superintendent at Kota central jail.
Demanding free and fair inquiry into matter and compensation to Ramzan’s family, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). “Communally targeted violence by the authorities raises a serious concern of human rights violations of minorities present inside the various correctional institutes across the nation. We demand immediate lodging of the FIR against the police guards involved in the custodial violence leading up to death of Ramzan,” the letter reads.
It has also demanded for a detailed inquiry by the Kota Medical College Hospital on the unchecked brazen violence inside the prisoners’ wards.
Communally targeted violence in Rajasthan prisons have been on the rise. Two months ago, a Pakistani prisoner Shakoorullah alias Mohammed Hanif, who was serving life sentence in Jaipur central jail since 2011, was stoned to death by a group of fellow inmates.