A year after the Bhopal fake encounter in which eight undertrial prisoners were killed by police on October 31, 2016, advocacy group Rihai Manch has come out with a report on the conditions of the ‘terror’ suspects lodged in Bhopal Central Jail.
Stating that the undertrials, suspected to be members of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were killed on the orders of the ruling BJP government, the report talks about the worsening tortures the remaining Muslim undertrials face in Bhopal Central Jail have been suffering since then.
The report says the jail seems to be run as per the RSS manual. The inmates are beaten up on a regular basis. The torture is both physical and mental, as they are routinely humiliated and made to raise slogans against their religion.
Ever since the fake encounter, the report finds, there has been a cutting down on the food and water that inmates are given. In fact, the prisoners are provided just one bottle of water throughout the day, for drinking and washing purposes. This bottle of water also is only given to them after they raise chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
What’s more, the inmates are even forbidden from uttering their usual greeting of ‘salaam’ when they have visitors in the jail.
The report says the beatings and brutalities have not stopped even after a complaint was lodged with the National Human Rights Commission.
One prisoner named Abu Faisal was thrashed to the extent that his leg got fractured. Another prisoner Iqrar Sheikh had filed an affidavit in Bhopal High Court that his beard was pulled out and he was getting brutal beatings on the soles of his feet. However, when civil society organisations questioned the fracture, the police fabricated a story that Abu was attempting to escape.
The inmates are not even given enough blankets during the winters. While before the fake encounter they were given 3 to 4 blankets during peak winter, after the encounter they were given only one blanket last year.
Even the meeting time with their relatives has been reduced from 20 minutes every 8 days to 5 minutes every 15 days.
Rihai Manch chief Muhammad Shoaib said the treatment meted out to Muslim prisoners was testimony to the BJP’s anti-Muslim stance.
He also said the worst part was that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his government had got away scot-free in the fake encounter.
Police told the media that the eight undertrials – Amjad Ramzan Khan, Zakir Husain, Sheikh Mehboob, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Sheikh, Aqueel Khilji, Khalid Ahmad and Majeed Nagouri – had allegedly escaped from the high-security prison killing a jail security guard, and were then gunned down in a return fire by the police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) team. However, leaked videos of the encounter showed that the accused were unarmed, were deliberately killed and the cops were seen taking orders on the phone from higher officials. The audio tapes leaked from the police control room also established that the encounter had been staged and the cops had orders from the top to kill these prisoners.