THE MAHARASHTRA government is yet to comply with a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) direction to pay compensation to the family of Qateel Siddiqui, an undertrial in a terror case who was allegedly murdered in Yerawada prison in Pune in 2012. The NHRC had in its proceedings in May observed that Siddiqui as a prisoner was in custody of the state and directed that Rs 5 lakh be paid to his family within six weeks.
“The prisoner died in the custody of State and the State is responsible for the protection and safety of the prisoner in its custody. A case of violation of human rights of the deceased prisoner is made out. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission recommends to the Government of Maharashtra, through its Chief Secretary, to pay compensation of Rs. 5,00,000/- to the next of kin of the deceased prisoner Mohd. Qateel Mohd. Jafir Siddiqui,” the NHRC had said in its order.
Siddiqui, who was from Bihar’s Darbhanga, was allegedly a member of the Indian Mujahideen. He was lodged in the high security cell of Yerawada jail. On June 8, 2012, Siddiqui was allegedly strangled to death by two inmates — Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao. The murder case against the two is pending trial before a Pune court.
Siddiqui’s wife Fatima said while there had been some paperwork in progress, they had not received the compensation so far. “My father-in-law is old and I have to take care of two young children. So we have not been able to follow up the case in Maharashtra. We have… not received any compensation so far,” she said.
The NHRC perused the chargesheet filed in the case, which has concluded the final cause of death was “asphyxia due to ligature strangulation with consumption of alcohol”. “… The incident occurred despite the fact that the accused was kept at Anda Cell, the high security area of the jail. It indicates the negligence on the part of jail authorities in providing safety and security of the prisoners under their control,” the NHRC said in its order.
Though the Maharashtra government was a party in the case, it did not respond to a showcause notice sent to it by the commission on why there should not be monetary compensation.
When contacted, Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya said the state would comply with the NHRC order. “I will not be able to give details of the individual case, but we will comply with whatever directions have been passed by the NHRC to the Maharashtra state,” he said.