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IT IS A FORUM TOWARDS PROTECTING THE CIVIL , HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE OPPRESSED - DALITS , MINORITIES & TRIBALS. The Criminal - Police - Politician - Judge - Criminals Nexus is trying to silence me in many ways. If anything untoward happens to me or to my dependents CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA together with jurisdictional police & District Magistrate will be responsible for it.
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Editorial : Safety of Jail Inmates
Responsibility of Judges
The presiding judge of the case who issues
arrest warrant against a person , who rejects the bail plea of the
accused and the judge who remands accused to police custody /
judicial custody is fully responsible for safety , human rights of the
prison / jail inmates. Use of 3rd degree torture is rampant in
jails and in all such cases , respective presiding
judges must be made to pay compensation from their pockets and
judges must be charged for AIDING & ABETTING THE
MURDER ATTEMPT on prisoner by jail / police
authorities. Are the JUDGES & POLICE above Law ?
Choudhury‘s Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most
Famous highlights how different jail experiences can be
depending on who you are and what you can pay.
When I met Santosh
Yadav, a journalist from Bastar, for an early morning breakfast in Delhi a few
weeks ago, he looked happy. There was a sense of relief and freedom in his
eyes. Yadav had been recently released on bail after 17 months of
imprisonment. He was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police in September 2015 from
his village Darbha in Bastar. At the time of his arrest, Yadav used to report
for two Hindi local dailies, the Navbharat and Chhattisgarh.
He was accused of being a Maoist supporter and charged under various
sections of the Indian Penal Code and other laws pertaining to crimes ranging
from rioting, criminal conspiracy, murder, criminal intimidation and with being
a part of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), among the other alleged
offences. He was granted bail by the Supreme Court on February 26 this year,
after his earlier bail petitions were rejected by the lower courts.
As soon as he started
narrating his jail experiences, he assumed a different persona altogether.
There was a sense of intense gloom and despair in his eyes. “What I saw and
went through in jail was beyond my imagination,” he said, adding that “I used
to think aisa angrezon ke samay hi hota hoga (things like this
could have only happened during colonial rule).” Yadav said he was severely
tortured and even kept in solitary confinement during his incarceration, apart
from routine beatings by the other inmates on the instructions of the jail
officials. Listening to Yadav was like re-reading journalist Iftikhar Gilani’s
jail memoir, My Days in Prison. Gilani had been jailed in June 2002
on the charges of possessing ‘classified documents’ and booked under the
draconian Official Secrets Act. The
only evidence presented was a report he had downloaded from the internet.
Eventually, he was discharged. In his memoir, Gilani writes, “I was beaten up
many times while inside the prison. For 41 days, I worked as a labourer…”
Sunetra Choudhury Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous
Roli Books, 2017
Not everyone goes
through the trials and tribulations that Yadav and Gilani underwent. Jail can
be quite a ‘haven’ for some, depending primarily on one’s socio-economic
background and political influence, irrespective of how grave the charges or
the crimes committed. In fact, it’s possible that the graver the nature of the
alleged crime, the better the facilities you can avail. All, of course, through
illegal means. Unfortunately, in jails, illegality is the norm.
book Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous tells us
how all of this is possible. In so doing, she gives us a glimpse of the
underground and parallel economy of jails across the country. Based on
extensive secondary research and detailed interviews with people who have
spent time in jail as well as those who have worked in or on jails, Choudhury
presents a series of stories which are nothing short of eye-opening – dare I
say, even eye-popping – in their revelations.
Choudhury profiles the
incarceration of 13 people who are either in jail or were at one point of
time. While the book mostly concentrates on describing famous people in prison,
it does cover others as well. Among the former are politicians Amar Singh, A.
Raja and Pappu Yadav, the arms dealer Abhishek Verma’s wife, Anca Verma, CEO
Peter Mukherjea and Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy. Businessman Subrata Roy of Sahara
also finds a brief mention in the introduction.
Narrating her meeting
with Roy, Choudhury writes:
“After walking through a long corridor inside
the Chandragupta suite [at the Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi] that had been used
by heads of state, and after passing a room that only had his shoes, I was
ushered into a sitting room with Roy. He was very polite and spoke to me in
Bangla, appreciating my work as I’m sure his secretary may have briefed him.
Someone brought in some mishit doi and sandesh. As soon as I took out my
notebook he said, ‘Listen, don’t include me in this book of yours. I’m not a
criminal.’ I told him that not everyone featured in my book would be a
criminal. Many would be those wrongly accused of crimes which led them to
unfairly spend long years in custody. ‘But I am different. There isn’t even an
FIR against me,’ he clarified.”
Roy was given VIP
treatment during his jail term. In fact, as the author informs us, he paid a
whopping Rs 1.23 crore for the facilities that he received in Tihar. He lived
like a king even in jail.
ridiculous as it may sound, the sad reality is, in the words of Anca Verma, “If
you steal 1,000 rupees, the hawaldar will beat the shit out of you and lock you
up in in a dungeon with no bulb or ventilation. If you steal 55,000 crore
rupees then you get to stay in a 40-foot cell which has four split units,
internet, fax, mobile phones and a staff of ten to clean your shoes and cook
you food.” This singular quote from the book speaks volumes about the privileges
and deprivation faced by people in jails, given their money power and political
connections. It also tells us about the rotten nature of our criminal justice
system. However, as the author notes, “special treatment in jail is, of course,
not a new phenomenon.” She draws our attention towards the case of the infamous
Charles Sobhraj. However, what is striking is how, over a period of time, a new
normal of ‘super’ special treatment for a certain type of jail inmate has been
drawn into our discourse.
Among the most tragic
and lesser-known stories is the one of Rehmana. Hers is a clear case of guilt
by association. Now out of jail, she is the wife of Pakistani national, Arif
who is currently on death row for being an operative of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba
convicted in the Red Fort attack case. Though there are several unanswered
questions about Arif being an operative of the LeT and his involvement in the
attack, Rehmana and her entire family suffer for the crime. “Don’t write their
names,” Rehmana requested the author when she met her for an interview.
“Rehmana’s aware that she’s already created
considerable problems for everyone associated with her. One of her sisters, a
government school teacher in Bhopal, is afraid that Rehmana has spoilt her
daughter’s chances of getting a good match. Her brother, a year younger than
Rehmana, is still mentally disturbed by all that had happened. Rehmana may have
married Arif but they were all hauled to the police station for one night in
December. And that night’s nightmare is still too scary for them to emerge from.”
The story of the
transgender bar dancer Khushi Sheikh as well as that of the school teacher and
a once terror accused Wahid Sheikh are nothing short of horrifying. In both
these cases, the perpetrators are those who are entrusted by law to protect the
lives and liberties of the people – the police. Referring to Wahid’s case, the
author confesses that “Even after two decades of reporting, his account gave me
sleepless nights. I realised how in daily journalism we err in relying too much
on what authorities say, in not questioning the prosecution agency.”
“Wahid stands acquitted after a decade in jail
yet there is no compensation for the time he has lost, for the wounds that he
bore from prison. Wahid has given real names of his tormentors, not just to me,
but to courts and judges. All of them are decorated police officers—A. N. Roy,
K. P. Raghuvanshi, Vijay Salaskar. You can’t dismiss his words because he
(Wahid was not convicted) and the others who have been convicted can show you a
Mumbai High Court judgement which upholds how they were beaten in jail, their
rights violated and then denied medical treatment.”
Though the author
regrets not having been able to include the stories of politician M.K.
Kanimozhi, IPS officer R. K. Sharma and actress Monica Bedi, one feels that she
could have tried including some of the most important stories of those who are
either still lodged in jail or have spent years in the prisons of central
Indian states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. Stories of people like
Soni Sori, Linga Kodopi and Jiten Marandi would have enriched the book.
Nevertheless, it is a well-researched book and should be read widely and
translated into Indian languages.
Jailed for Over a Year, Chhattisgarh
Journalist Santosh Yadav Granted Bail
Bastar-based Santosh Yadav had been jailed
in September 2015 by the Chhattisgarh police who accused him of having
links with Naxals and of involvement in operations against the
journalist Santosh Yadav was granted bail by the Supreme Court, the Committee
to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced in a tweet. Yadav was arrested in
September 2015 by the state police under the Chhattisgarh Special Public
Security Act for “associating with a terrorist organisation” and “supporting
and aiding terrorist groups”.
Yadav, a Bastar-based
freelance journalist, was arrested on September 29, 2015, after Chhattisgarh
Police Special Task Force Commander Mahant Singh had said he saw him standing
behind a Maoist fighter during an ambush in Darbha in August of that year. The
district police echoed Singh’s claims, accusing Yadav of being a Maoist
sympathiser; the superintendent also announced that Yadav was suspected of
having links with Shankar, a Maoist leader in the area. However, Singh
later “expressed inability to identify the accused with certainty”, according
to an identification parade memo dated January 1, 2016.
Santosh Yadav. Credit:
Described as a
fearless writer by fellow journalists, Yadav has contributed stories to various
Hindi dailies including Dainik Navbharat, Patrika and Dainik
Chhattisgarh, reporting on human rights violations in Bastar. Yadav
often introduced the family members of those arrested by state police forces to
the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, a lawyers’ collective that offered free legal
services to victims of police excesses. Journalists and activists across the
country protested following Yadav’s arrest.
Yadav had served
as a point of contact and verification for other reporters writing Bastar,
which has been described as a media blackhole, with journalists subjected
to routine threats, intimidation, and harassment by both Maoists and the
In the chargesheet
filed by the Chhattisgarh Police on February 17, 2016, Yadav was charged under
various sections of the Arms Act 1959 and the Explosive Substances Act 1908. He
was also charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
1967 (UAPA) and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA), both
of which are anti-terrorism legislations.
general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, told Scroll.in that the
UAPA and the CSPSA are “widely held as draconian as the ‘unlawful activity’
laid down in these Acts are vague and so broad as to be highly amenable to
gross abuse and arbitrary and unreasonable action by the state police and
Yadav’s case points to
the broader issue of dwindling press freedom in India, coupled with
increasing rates of violence against journalists. In its report published
in December 2016, the CPJ had said Yadav was the only Indian journalist to
be imprisoned because of his work. According to the 2016 World Press
Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), India ranks
abysmally low at 133 among 180 countries, The Hindu reported.“Prime
Minister Narendra Modi seems indifferent to these threats and problems, and
there is no mechanism for protecting journalists,” the RSF report asserted.
Covert op on Dawood compromised by
some Mumbai cops: RK Singh
Noting that Dawood and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed
were protected by Pakistani forces, Singh said a secret operation must be
carried out in the manner the United States did to kill terrorists Osama bin
Laden and Mullah Omar.
had planned a covert operation to take down underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but
the operation was compromised by some Mumbai Police officials. These are the
explosive revelations made by former Home Secretary and now BJP leader RK Singh
in an interview to Seedhi Baat on Aaj Tak.
RK Singh revealed details of how corrupt elements of the Mumbai
Police foiled a secret operation to take down Dawood. The operation was
launched when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister and current NSA Ajit
Doval was at the IB. Indian government had roped in some elements from the
Chota Rajan gang and they were being trained at a secret location outside
Maharashtra. But Mumbai Police officials who were in touch with D-company
landed up at the training camp with arrest warrants for the covert operatives
who had been engaged by India. The entire operation to take down Dawood failed
due to these rogue elements in Mumbai police. This is the first time that there
is confirmation of a botched covert operation to take down Dawood by someone
who has held a position of authority.
Noting that Dawood and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed
were protected by Pakistani forces, Singh said a secret operation must be
carried out in the manner the United States did to kill terrorists Osama bin
Laden and Mullah Omar. He added that Pakistan will never admit that Dawood is
in Pakistan. Similarly, it will shamelessly deny the presence of other
terrorists despite funding and training these terror groups on its soil.
"India must repeat the Myanmar operation in Pakistan," he maintained.
He added if one operation fails, the government shouldn't be disheartened but
launch another operation right away.
Singh said Modi's advisors are not giving him the right advice
on this issue. "Nothing will be achieved by handing over dossiers to
Pakistan. It is globally recognised as a snake pit. We can't depend on the US
to fight India's battles. India has to fight its own enemies," Singh
Singh also said the neighbouring country needs to be wise and
avert a possible war by not shielding a terrorist. "Pakistan has to
calculate the cost of a war. I don't think Pakistan is such a big fool that it
would engage in a war with India," he said. "If America sees any
threat from Pakistan, it will act. Similarly, Israel can kill its enemies. We
need to develop this mentality," he added. The retired bureaucrat revealed
that specially-trained private security men comprising mostly ex-army men
protect Dawood in Pakistan under the supervision of the ISI. Singh exuded
confidence that Modi's visit to the UAE would yield desirable results. He did
acknowledge though that Dawood still has significant influence in Dubai.
Coming down heavily on Pakistan, Singh said India must stop
dialogue with its neighbor and instead deal with the situation in a strategic
manner. "India must hit back in a way that hurts Pakistan the most,"
he said while suggesting that the dialogue process only helps Pakistan restore
credibility which it has lost all over the world. "Pakistan believes in a
constant war with India. We have the capability to hit back hard. Any dialogue
with Pakistan is futile. For a discredited country like Pakistan, dialogue
process is an opportunity to regain its credibility and strike parity with
India," Singh said. He said the elected government in the neighbouring
country had no control over its military force and the ISI.
Singh lauded the central government's firm stand on separatists
in Kashmir. He said the Pakistani government was using separatists to claim in
international platform that it has the support of a section of people in Jammu
and Kashmir. The Indian government has done the right thing by not talking to
separatists, he said.
Criminal justice system victimises
poor and vulnerable: CJI
New Delhi: The criminal justice system largely victimises
the poor and vulnerable sections of society and there is an urgent need for
reform on multiple fronts, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said today as he
called for the scrapping of laws which criminalise begging and sex work.
"Not only does the criminal justice system largely
victimise the poor and vulnerable sections of society, very often, laws
themselves criminalise poverty and destitution," Dattu said on the
occasion of Law Day function on the Supreme Court lawns.
"In India, laws criminalising beggary, sex work and
certain occupations of the tribal community are often largely seen by the
scholars and human rights activists as widening the net of criminality by
"Along with legal aid, there must be an intense
process to redo the acts that are criminalised towards decriminalisation of
acts that has a disproportionate impact on the poor," he said at the
function where Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, too, was present.
On the issue of protection of women against sexual
violence, Dattu said, "We seem to be having a growing affinity for
ensuring physical safety of women by curbing their freedom.
"As far as I am concerned, I would like to
emphatically state in no uncertain terms that the security of women is not
achieved by curbing their freedom and liberty and it is no security at all. We
have to evolve some systematic reforms," he said.
The Law Minister, who spoke before the Chief Justice,
dwelt upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious 'Make in India' project,
saying that the country is being converted into a major global player through
the creation of a business- friendly environment.
Efforts should be undertaken to make India an
international arbitration hub, he added.
He said, "The government is pushing the concept of
'Make in India' and converting the country into a major global player, for
which we need to have a business-friendly environment.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director, Human
Rights Watch, throws light on custodial torture
In-custody torture, though illegal
under law, is often resorted too, worldwide, making it one of worst forms of
human rights violations. Meenakshi Ganguly, former Time journalist and now,
South Asia director, Human Rights Watch, takes up a few questions here to
address the subject. Excerpts:
Do you think India should also come
out with an official report documenting in-custody torture as the U.S. Senate
recently did on CIA's secret torture program?
Torture and other ill-treatment are
absolutely forbidden under universally applicable international laws. Most that
defend torture argue, as was done by the CIA, that harsh methods are necessary
when there is great danger to public security. They speak of the ‘ticking
bomb.’ In fact, any experienced interrogator would agree that using torture is
not effective because it can produce inaccurate intelligence or generate false
leads. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA’s
detention and interrogation program shows that not only was the CIA torture far
more brutal and harsh than previously admitted, it was not an effective means
of producing valuable or useful intelligence. Repeated claims that the program
was necessary to protect Americans turned out to be false.
India has prepared a draft bill
seeking to prohibit torture. But as long as there is a culture of impunity,
where public officials are protected from prosecution, the law will fail.
Some argue that our judiciary already
has enough checks and balances to protect prisoners from abuse. Do you agree
Indian law does not allow confessions
to the police as evidence because there is concern that such confessions might
be coerced. Under POTA, confessions to the police were permitted, and
eventually the law was repealed because it was abused.
Although most police will argue that
“third degree” is generally discouraged, in our discussions with the police we
also found that it is the most used instrument in their non-existent toolkit.
Overworked, where good work is seldom rewarded, junior level staff is expected
to produce prompt results — and they do so by rounding up suspects and beating
them, hoping to solve the case. Inevitably, they end up with false leads, often
make wrong arrests and are unable to secure convictions due to lack of
evidence. Poor witness protection and harassment to witnesses also means that
they do not want to get involved in a long drawn out trial.
The senior officer level police
complain of undue pressure from politicians and powerful figures, who can act
as patrons to criminals, demanding they be protected from arrest and
prosecution. Instead of upholding the law, it is the police that end up
breaking it. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government must engage in
police reform. This is crucial to ensure that police in India becomes an
effective and accountable force. The judiciary rightly acquits people for lack
of evidence. But if police does not receive the training to gather proper
evidence, it also means that criminals can get away, while innocents suffer
wrongful Muslim, calling me a traitor arrests, torture, and lengthy under trial
detention. It also leads to an even more frightening outcome — where the police
do not have evidence to convict, they decide to be both judge and executioner,
doling out punishment that can range from slaps to extrajudicial killings, or
What vital points does HRW’s
in-custody torture report of 2011 throw up?
We found that there is urgent need to
implement reforms to the criminal justice system. The police in India operates
as it did under colonial rule. We found that fear of police is a barrier to
seeking justice. Women and children, victims of sexual attacks, said they
feared further abuse if they did venture into a police station. Dalits complain
that if they muster the courage to complain, they often find that the victims
are made to sit on the floor outside while the upper caste perpetrators are
served tea by the officer. Muslims complain of being held in suspicion.
The constabulary and the police
station is often the only State presence available to the public, and it is not
a pleasant experience. Many policemen agreed that they are often rude and
harsh, but they also point to their own frustration, having to deal with a
range of issues from domestic violence to communal riots, often because the
civil administration simply fails to do its part inimplementing policy. We
found police stations with desktop computers, but no electricity or even a
trained operator, forget access to data and information. At some places, the
residential quarters were shocking. Policemen said they are accused of
demanding money when they have to travel a distance in rural areas to investigate
a complaint, but said there was a shortage of vehicles or funds to pay for
fuel. On the other hand, we found that many State governments are yet to
establish independent and effective human rights commissions or set up a
complaints authority to investigate police abuse.
Don’t we have guidelines to prevent
The Supreme Court and the NHRC have
laid down guidelines. Unfortunately, they are routinely ignored. That is why
there is such a strong demand to seek the repeal of AFSPA to be replaced by one
that has stronger human rights protections. The law provides widespread powers,
but protects soldiers when those powers are abused.
In the investigation of terror
attacks, police have made mistakes, often due to the use of torture. The Andhra
Pradesh Minorities Rights Commission, for instance, found the wrongful use of
torture and recommended compensations. In one case in Orissa, we had a man tell
us that he was beaten by the police so severely, his leg was fractured. In
agony, when the police continued to hit his injured leg, he blurted out the
names of his office colleagues, who were then arrested and tortured. All of
them were charged under the counter terror laws as members of the banned Maoist
groups. Eventually, they were found to be innocent by the courts.
India is yet to sign the UN
Convention Against Torture. Will it help?
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
had even permitted UN special rapporteurs on torture to visit their countries
but reports of in-custody torture continue to pour in from such countries.
Police often say that human rights impose restrictions when tough measures are
needed for tough challenges. Unfortunately, any compromise is only going to
lead to bad outcomes.When the State allows, even rewards, its security forces
to violate the fundamental principles of the Constitution, it rarely turns out
well. It leads to corruption at the very least. It can also turn policemen into
killers for hire, or as a military court discovered recently, lead soldiers to
kill innocents for profit.
In Sri Lanka, we have documented
torture including sexual abuse of suspected LTTE supporters and sympathisers.
In Bangladesh, the Rapid Action Battalion was created as a counter-terror
force, but instead has repeatedly been accused of extrajudicial executions.
People want to feel safe. However, we often find that denial of rights can
cause security challenges, but the continued violation of human rights
aggravates the situation, leading to a cycle of violence and placing innocents
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