Central Jail Violence:Lawyers Body Terms Shifting Of Inmates ‘Illegal’  

SRINAGAR — Asking the prisoners to shift from old barracks to the new ones at around 9:00 p.m. on Thursday was not permissible under law, High Court Bar Association said on Saturday as it strongly condemned the use of force against the inmates of Central Jail Srinagar and announced to take up the matter before the High Court.

“A PIL with regard to the providing of better facilities to the prisoners lodged in the jails, both inside and outside the valley, is pending consideration, for initiating appropriate action against those who have taken law in their own hands and have beaten, ill-treated and tortured the inmates of Central Jail, Srinagar, without any authority of law,” a spokesman of the lawyers’ body said. 

“The Bar Association maintains that under Jail Laws every prisoner has a right to human dignity and non-deprivation of his fundamental rights. They have to be provided adequate diet, health, medicare, clean and hygienic conditions and proper clothing, bedding and equipment.”

They have to be provided facilities regarding interviews with their families and to contact their lawyers, the lawyers’ body said.

The prison authorities have also to take steps for ensuring the speedy trial of their cases and grant of bail to them. In every jail, which has a population of 200 prisoners, canteen facilities have also to be provided to the inmates, he said. The Prison Laws also provide of shifting of prisoners to hospitals in emergent cases, the spokesman said. 

“There is however no law which provides that after sunset the prisoners should be marched out of their barracks for going to any other place or subjecting them to any ill treatment. Asking the prisoners to shift from old barracks to the new ones at around 9:00 p.m. on Thursday was not therefore permissible under law.” It is however unfortunate that the jail authorities of Central Jail, Srinagar, according to their own showing, had asked the inmates at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, to shift to new barracks which reportedly lead to an altercation, providing “an excuse” to the jail authorities to resort to desecrate several religious scriptures and fire bullets and pellets on them due to which dozens got seriously injured.

“The Bar Association believes that the story of shifting of inmates from old to new barracks, as is sought to be brought out by the jail authorities now, is not true but only a cover to hide the reality,” the spokesman said, adding, “Actually, the prison authorities including the officers/officials of Central Jail, Srinagar, have all along been for the shifting of the Kashmiri detainees/undertrial prisoners lodged in Central Jail, Srinagar, under court orders, to outside jails to make their appearance before the Courts, where their cases are pending trial, impossible.”

 It is because of the reason, he said, hundreds of inmates, only in the recent past were shifted to jails located in Jammu and outside the State at Haryana and other places and for doing so, even the J&K Public Safety Act was got amended, which amendment has very rightly been challenged by the Bar Association before the High Court and is subjudice.”

Since all these shifting have been done during night hours, therefore, on Thursday also, the jail authorities, in all probabilities may have tried to shift some more prisoners outside the valley and on their refusal to move out of their barracks at night hours, they were beaten and subjected to ill-treatment and to provide further justification to their shifting out of Central Jail, Srinagar, it was alleged that they set some barracks on fire.”

The spokesman said the District and Sessions Judge Srinagar, who under the orders of the High Court is required to visit all the jails and interrogation centres located in District Srinagar, after every two months and submit the report to the High Court regularly, should have himself rushed to the Central Jail Srinagar on Friday itself to find out the truth “but he has not done so, for the reasons beyond one’s comprehension. He being the head of the team, which is to visit the jail after every two months, should immediately visit the jail and submit his report to the High Court accordingly.” 

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