Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, facing trial in an UAPA case in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots, Tuesday told a Delhi court that she was assaulted and called a terrorist by inmates at Mandoli jail.
This is the second time Jahan has told a court that she was assaulted inside the jail. She had told the court she was facing harassment in prison for the past four months and had requested to be shifted to Tihar, but it was refused due to the pandemic.
Jahan told the court, “This is the second incident in a month. In the morning today at 6.30, they (inmates) beat me badly and abused me verbally. One of the inmates even slit her hand so I’m punished on a false complaint. Fortunately, jail officials did not listen to them. I have given a written complaint. They keep calling me a terrorist. They also demanded money from me in the canteen.”
Observing that Jahan was in a “state of utter fear”, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed jail authorities to take immediate steps to ensure her security and that she was not harassed further for bringing her complaints before the court. It also directed prison authorities to submit a report Wednesday on detailed steps taken.
When ASJ Rawat asked the Assistant Superintendent of Mandoli jail if such an incident has occurred, she confirmed the same and said necessary steps have been taken. The matter will be heard next on January 5.
ASJ Rawat said, “She (Jahan) seems to be in a state of utter fear. Please talk to her immediately and understand the situation. File a detailed report about steps taken to allay her apprehension and fear. Take all necessary steps, take immediate steps. I don’t want to hear that the accused was further harassed by her inmates or anybody else because she complained. I do not want to hear that the present accused is harmed in any way.”
Advocate Pradeep Teotia, appearing for Jahan, apprised the court of previous incidents of assault faced by Jahan. He said, “One of the inmates beat her up badly previously. A complaint was filed before the Deputy Superintendent and that inmate was shifted to another jail. There are two ladies in her prison cell who beat her up today. While she was offering her morning prayers, they objected to it and started abusing and beating her.”
Jahan further said she was suffering from a medical condition for which she was not taken to a hospital nor were any tests done.
Advocate Rizwan, appearing for co-accused and suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, claimed that most of the riot accused were facing discrimination in prison, either by inmates or jail authorities. “Almost all the accused are facing discrimination in jail. They have been declared terrorists before conclusion of the trial. Jail authorities behave adversely with them. Proper monitoring by the court is important in the cases, especially the conspiracy case in which the accused have been booked under the UAPA,” he said.
ASJ Rawat said, “An accused is an accused, not a convict.”
Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, who is also facing trial in a riots case, told the court he has repeatedly been called a “terrorist” in jail. Co-accused Athar Khan also asked the court to shift him from the general ward since other inmates “behave strangely” with him after hearing he is a riot accused.
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