human rights

5 Star Jails & Hell

S.O.S   e – Voice For Justice – e-news weekly

Spreading the light of humanity freedom

Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.13..Issue.23….….10 / 06 / 2017

 

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 ?

 

 

Review: In Jails, Illegality Is the Norm

BY MAHTAB ALAM

 

Sunetra 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.

Sunetra Choudhury’s 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.

Unbelievable and 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.

Sunetra Choudhury. Credit: Twitter

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

BY THE WIRE STAFF

 

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 security forces.

 

Chhattisgarh 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: Amnesty International

Described as a fearless writer by fellow journalists, Yadav has contributed stories to various Hindi dailies including Dainik NavbharatPatrika 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 police.

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.

Sudha Bharadwaj, 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 administration”.

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.

 

Prosecute  Sanjay  Dutt  under  TADA 

https://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/prosecute-sanjay-dutt-under-tada  ,

Revoke Bail of Salman Khan

https://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/revoke-bail-of-salman-khan ,

 

Aeroplane Rides for Corrupt Police Corrupt Judges

https://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/aeroplane-rides-for-corrupt-police-corrupt-judges  ,

 

Traitors  in  Judiciary &  Police

https://www.scribd.com/document/329980170/Traitors-in-Judiciary-Police  ,

 

Crimes  by  Khaki

https://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/crimes-by-khaki

 

FIRST  Answer  Judges  Police

https://www.scribd.com/document/336585411/FIRST-Answer-Judges-Police

 

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.

 

India 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 added.

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 punishing destitution.

“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.

 

 

In ‘safe’ custody

 

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 with it?

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 fake encounters.

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 custodial torture?

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 at risk.

 

 

 

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