JNU student Sharjeel Imam, who is in judicial custody in connection with the February 2020 Northeast Delhi riots, Monday alleged that he was assaulted by convicts at Tihar Jail and called a terrorist during a search inside his cell.
This is the first time a Northeast Delhi riots accused has made allegations of assault inside jail. Earlier, the main accused in the UAPA case have alleged discrimination by jail staff during multiple court hearings.
Imam’s lawyer Ibrahim moved an application before a link judge at Karkardooma court to issue show cause notice to jail authorities for the “illegal assault and search committed upon the applicant” and to direct authorities to take immediate steps to protect him from any “further assault/ harassment”. The plea also asked the court to direct jail authorities to preserve video recorded in CCTV camera of the jail from 7.15 pm to 8.30 pm on June 30, when the alleged incident took place.
The link judge has issued notice and will hear the matter on July 14 when jail authorities are expected to file a report, his lawyer said.
On Monday, Imam was to be produced at Karkardooma court for his appearance in the main riots case registered under the stringent UAPA sections. His lawyer said Imam disclosed the assault when he met him at court.
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The application moved on behalf of Imam claimed that on June 30, the Assistant Superintendent along with “8-9 convicts came to the cell of the applicant in the name of carrying out a search” and during this “illegal search, the petitioner’s books and clothes were thrown away and he was assaulted and called terrorist and anti-national when he prevented them from throwing stuff”.
Imam then “requested the AS to prevent them from doing the assault as the AS was present there during the entire episode, but to no avail… he was further assaulted by the convicts”.
The application stated that a search cannot be carried out by jail staff with the help of convicts and that “the AS was complicit in this illegal act”.
Imam further alleged that “no contraband was recovered” and that the convicts also suggested to “place some contraband to put him in trouble”.
Ibrahim told The Indian Express, “I moved the application to secure his safety. This is the first case of an assault that was disclosed by a riot accused. Search operations are regularly carried out inside his cell and they have never found contraband. This time, jail staff came with convicts which is illegal. Only jail staff can check the cells.”
A senior jail officer said, “We have received information about the incident and will conduct an enquiry. We are looking into the allegations against jail officials and inmates. We also received a request to preserve the CCTV footage and will do the same.”
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