Kashmiri terror- suspects thrashed in Tihar jail, probe panel terms it ‘gross violation of fundamental human and legal rights’

New Delhi: Following the controversy over the brutality inflicted on 18 Kashmiri terror suspects by the Tamil Nadu Special Force in Tihar Jail on November 21, the authorities on Thursday suspended all the personnel involved in the incident.

Delhi High Court ordered an enquiry on 27 November after the gross violation of fundamental and legal rights of prisoners. The matter came to light when the advocate MS Khan went to meet Syed Shahid Yousuf, an inmate who got a severe beating in jail.

The advocate noticed injury marks on his body and the matter was taken to the High Court and a committee was formed to probe the incident. Yousuf is the son of Syed Salahuddin, the head of terror group of Hizbul Mujahideen.

Three-member panel in its report has found that 18 inmates suffered injuries on the night of November 21 after they were brutally beaten up by personnel from the Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP) and the Quick Response Team (QRT) “without any justifiable reason”, The Indian Express reported.

The panel—comprising Joint Registrar (Rules) Reetesh Singh, Registrar (Appellate) Lorren Bamniyal and Advocate Harsh Prabhakar—accessed CCTV footage and interviewed the injured prisoners.

A senior government official said on the night of November 21, Tamil Nadu special force or TSP, personnel decided to conduct a “routine search” in the high risk ward. One of the prisoners was found to be in possession of a pillow, which, according to the official was jail property. TSP sub-inspector Muthu Pandee attempted to confiscate the pillow, following which a batch of three prisoners, including one from Kashmir, allegedly assaulted sub-inspector Pandee.

The TSP officer called for reinforcements to remove three prisoners. This is when other inmates of the ward allegedly intervened which led to a scuffle between them and the authorities. As many as 18 jail inmates were reportedly injured in the incident.

Advocate Khan, however, questioned version of events given by the jail authorities. “Each high risk cell houses 2-3 prisoners and, for a moment, even if we consider that inmates of one cell misbehaved the rest 24 prisoners were locked in their barricades. What was the need to unlock the barricade and beat them when they couldn’t even reach attacking officials? This is not the first time that high risk ward prisoners have been beaten up. In August, inmates had gone on a hunger strike against poor conditions in the prison,” Khan said.

All of the 18 injured inmates were lodged in the high-risk wards C and F inside Jail number 1, where the persons accused or convicted in terror-related cases are incarcerated.

The panel report said nothing in their findings justified the brutality meted out by the TSP and QRT personnel. It stated that the November 21 incident was a “gross violation of fundamental human and other legal rights of prisoners who have been subjected to severe physical torture without any justifiable reason.”

A detailed report has now been submitted to the Union Home Ministry about the incident, “The jail authorities have deposited the relevant evidence, including CCTV footage, to the probe teams. All employees of Tihar have been sensitised and asked to ensure that inherent dignity of the prisoners, while carrying out searches, are protected, ” a senior home ministry official said.