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HC panel report on tihar violence: ‘Inmates with fractures had to wait overnight for treatment’

The panel stated that doctors were informed about the inmates’ injuries around 11.30 pm, even though the incident took place between 8.30-9.30 pm. Basic treatment, the panel said, started around midnight

The incident took place at jail number 1 on November 21 last year

Eighteen injured inmates were locked up inside their cells for at least two-and-a-half hours without treatment, while four Tamil Nadu State Police (TSP) personnel with “minor injuries” were rushed in an ambulance to DDU Hospital. This is the finding of a three-member panel investigating the violence on November 21 last year inside Tihar’s jail number 1.

The panel stated that doctors were informed about the inmates’ injuries around 11.30 pm, even though the incident took place between 8.30-9.30 pm. Basic treatment, the panel said, started around midnight.

As per a letter by the Tihar Jail doctor, cited in the panel’s report, the inmates sustained cuts and lacerated wounds — including some on the head — contusions and swelling on their bodies. However, the panel said that “no medical attention” was provided in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and inmates had to wait till the next morning to meet an orthopaedic surgeon. The panel was formed after inmates complained of assault at the hands of personnel at the jail.

“In spite of these injuries, inmates were not referred either to a medical facility within the jail, where they could get appropriate and immediate medical aid, or to DDU Hospital. Instead, they were kept locked up in their cells till next morning, when they were examined by an orthopaedic surgeon. On the other hand, four TSP personnel with minor injuries, and with complaints of body ache, were prominently sent (using ambulance) to DDU hospital,” the committee said, citing Dr Rohit Kumar’s letter to the resident medical officer of Central Jail Hospital. Dr Kumar is the medical officer in-charge of the jail dispensary, central jail number 1, who had treated the inmates at midnight.

The High Court, which had constituted the panel, had also ordered a medical check-up of inmates at AIIMS. The committee also cited notes of doctors who were part of the medical board that conducted the check-up. The notes state: “Inmates suffered abrasions, bruises, lacerated wounds, contusions, dislocation of fingers consistent with injuries that are found when lathi/baton blows are given to a person.”

As per the medical board’s report, six of 18 inmates sustained fractures. On the injuries sustained by TSP personnel, the committee cited a report by DDU Hospital, which said three of four men had sustained injuries that were “simple and caused by blunt weapon”. No injuries were recorded in the report on the fourth personnel. “Medical reports of the TSP personnel indicate that they had very minor injuries. These injuries could have been caused during the process of lathi charge… The reports do not corroborate the claims of injuries made by TSP personnel in their statements,” the committee said.

The committee also pointed to an anomaly in the AIIMS medical board report, which read: “The board is of the unanimous opinion that all injuries sustained by examined persons could be produced by mild application of force/baton force in order to restrain a suddenly aggravated and violent prisoner, which is consistent with history mentioned in the order of the High Court.”

However, the panel noted that this “is a curious observation since the HC order does not state that the inmates were violent, and that mild application of force/baton force was used to restrain a suddenly aggravated and violent prisoner”.

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