A committee appointed by the Delhi High Court to probe violence against inmates in Tihar Jail has rejected the defence of Tamil Nadu State Police (TSP) personnel that inmates raised “anti-national slogans”. The committee also observed that the TSP’s claim was “manufactured” after the HC ordered a probe.
The committee submitted its report to the HC on February 7 and noted that TSP personnel — deployed in Tihar Jail for security — had included the defence as an “afterthought”. “The committee rejects all these versions as discussed earlier in the report. Even if anti-India slogans were raised, beating the inmates was not the course of action to be employed. Appropriate action, relevant laws and rules could have been resorted to,” said the report.
“In any case, some of the versions put forward are afterthoughts and seem to have been manufactured after the High Court took cognizance of this episode, and ordered a fact finding inquiry into it,” it said.
The TSP in submissions before the committee had said inmates on November 21, 2017 had objected to their search and seizure operations leading to a “mutiny” that resulted in the violence.
The committee comprised Dwarka District and Session Judge Brijesh Sethi, National Law University Professor Mrinal Satish and Advocate Sumeet Verma. The committee had also asserted that TSP personnel had “mercilessly beaten defenceless inmates” and recommended an FIR against 11 TSP personnel.
According to the report, Head Warden Satbir Singh, search party TSP members P Kapilan and Swami Nathan and assistant commandant M Selvamani had said “anti-national slogans” were raised. It said Selvamani, had sent a letter on the issue and stated that the scuffle ensued after the inmates objected to the seizure of the pillow covers of inmates of blocks C and F.
He stated in the letter, “…They also shouted against India and in favour to Pakistan… terrorist inmates and gang leaders of C and F blocks were roaming in the verandah and attacked SI Muthupandi after which minimum force was used to control them”.
The committee report includes this letter and observed: “It is to be noted that this is the first time that reference is made to the inmates shouting anti-India slogans. None of the reports of the TSP or jail officials prior to this letter mention the fact that anti-India slogans were raised.”
Selvani wrote the letter in response to an order received from the Director General (Prisons) dated November 28, seeking a report from him on the November 21 violence. After the violence, a preliminary enquiry committee was formed by the High Court and had submitted its report on November 27 and had said the incident was a “gross violation of fundamental human rights” of the prisoners. Taking note, the HC formed another committee as the violence warranted a “more serious probe.”
Syed Yusuf – arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and presently lodged in Tihar – had moved the HC after the violence. In his petition, it was alleged that he and several other inmates were assaulted by the TSP and Tihar Jail’s quick response team (QRT). Yusuf’s “blood-soaked vest” was presented before the HC as proof. Of 25 inmates, 18 sustained injuries during the violence.