Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan, facing trial in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case in connection with Northeast Delhi riots, told a Delhi court that she has faced threats of mutilation in jail, and said, “Someone who does not feel pain while cutting her hand will not feel pain when cutting my face.”
Ishrat told the court that this is continuing despite bringing the court’s attention to her harassment by a gang of women, “who indulge in vulgar acts inside Mandoli Jail”.
Jahan has allegedly been assaulted inside Mandoli jail twice. On Tuesday she told a court that she was called a terrorist and assaulted, following which the court summoned Tihar jail authorities to submit a status report.
On Wednesday, Jahan disclosed alleged incidents involving other inmates, and told the court that sections pertaining to sexual harassment must be invoked in the case.
When the hearing began, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat asked Ishrat if her problem was solved.
Ishrat said, “Sir, it has been the second time that I have been attacked by the same group. There is a woman in this group who provoked them… I had handled her bedding on the day I wanted to read the Namaz, and they started hurling abuses at me, pulled my hair and tore my clothes. There is another woman, who hurled very bad abuses at me. I have also given a written complaint. This woman had given a handwritten note to me asking for 8 dupattas. There is another woman who asks me for half a kilogram of milk every day. They are all led by an inmate who was transferred from Tihar jail as punishment. Even after your intervention, on the evening at 4 pm, she, in presence of the jail staff, told me I am not my father’s child if I do not ruin your face. I called the staff and told them I was being threatened again, and they said they can not plaster her mouth with tape.”
She added: “This woman also cut her hands. When any blunt object is not allowed in jail then how she cut her hand is my question. I asked the jail staff to give me in writing that you cannot plaster a tape on her mouth. It has been ten months and I have been silent, but these three women have ruined my life in jail. My request is to transfer these three women or transfer me to Tihar jail. This is a group of 20-25 women threatening to fulfill their demands. They all indulge in vulgar activities. I do not have it in me to fight with these people. I am an accused in such a big case. I have medical complications.”
A jail superintendent present at the hearing told the court, “Yesterday when they fought, both Ishrat and another inmate’s lodging was changed. One was kept in a different barrack in the same ward, and Ishrat was sent to another ward upon her request. As far as the latest incident is concerned, Ishrat had gone to the calling system and was told to wait as there were other people there. But she went regardless and the inmate with whom she had a fight told her these things from within her barrack. She was not confronting her.”
Ishrat then shot back, “I am sorry to say this, sir. There is a British rule here. This submission (by jail superintendent) is absolutely false. This inmate was confronting me. Someone who does not feel pain while cutting her hand will not feel pain when cutting my face.”
Pradeep Teotia, Ishrat’s lawyer, told the court, “When a woman outrages another woman’s modesty, there are sections in the IPC. The deterrence will not come by changing her bed. There should be stringent action against her. The local police should be involved, section 354 (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of IPC must be invoked as it is the minimum offence in this. I say this without fear to the jail superintendent, no matter how much fear you create for an inmate, we will go to the higher authorities. In jail only after you die they sit in an enquiry. These day-to-day exploitations, no one talks about. One person is stuck in a false case and that causes mental trauma. Then day-to-day they are dying like this. This is why suicides happen in jail. They are treated like cattle in jail.”
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