NEW DELHI: Eighteen inmates lodged in the high-risk cells of Tihar Jail were beaten up last week when they objected to the seizure of their pillow covers, a preliminary investigation directed by Delhi high court has established. The probe committee described the incident of November 21 as a “gross violation of fundamental human and other legal rights of prisoners who have been subjected to severe physical torture without any justifiable reason”.

Mostly accused and convicts in terror-related offences, the prisoners suffered serious injuries. Three suffered fractures inflicted by the security men, among them personnel of the Tamil Nadu Special Police and Quick Reaction Team. The 111-page report added that prisoners in Wards C and F were since living in a “state of fear” and apprehended they could “be killed on some or the other pretext”.
A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar termed these details reported by the team of Reetesh Singh, joint registrar rules, Lorren Bamniyal, registrar, and advocate Harsh Prabhakar as “very disturbing”. It ordered a thorough enquiry headed by a district judge to fix accountability. The Tamil Nadu Special Police is responsible for the security and safety of inmates lodged in the high-risk ward in Jail Number 1.
“It is completely unjustifiable. If this is the situation in Delhi, what about other places? It is our duty to ensure their (inmates) life is safe and secure even though they are accused of serious offences,” the bench noted. It ordered the production of the 18 prisoners for medical tests by a board to be set up by the medical superintendent at the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences. The high court also asked the authorities and committee to preserve the CCTV footage of the incident of November 21.

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