Maharashtra police have begun an inquiry after allegations of harassment against staffers in Nashik central prison were found in a suicide note recovered from an unusual place — the abdomen of a prisoner who was found hanging inside a cell. Senior officers said five other inmates of the jail, and a prisoner who had been released recently, have written to authorities, including the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, seeking an FIR under IPC Section 306 (abetment to suicide) against jail staffers.
The two-page note, written in Marathi and wrapped in plastic, was found inside the abdomen of Asghar Mansoori during the post-mortem conducted at a government hospital on October 7. Hours earlier, around 6.30 am, the 32-year-old was found hanging in a prison cell after he woke up early for namaaz. Officers said he had committed suicide using pieces of cloth, and an Accidental Death Record has been filed as per procedure in cases of unnatural death.
An official said that an investigation is also being conducted into who wrote the note for Mansoori — the family told police that he could not read or write. Mansoori, who was serving a life term on charges of murder, had completed nearly 14 years in jail, and was given the responsibility of a warder to assist jail staff, including keeping vigil at night.
However, the letters written by Mansoori’s co-inmates claim that he was kept in a separate cell for the past few weeks as “punishment” by a prison staffer. They allege that the staffer was involved in illegal activities, including arranging cell phones for inmates, and feared that Mansoori would alert senior officials.
“He was being harassed because of this continuously, and he told me that he was being threatened that a false case would be filed against him,” states one of the letters.
It claims that Mansoori was kept away from an open prison, which could have led to an early release, possibly within the next few months. And following complaints sent by inmates in this regard, he feared he would be mentally and physically tortured or attacked, the letter claims. The other letters allege corruption and demands for money made by prison staffers, and state that the inmates are ready to record these charges in statements before a magistrate.
Maharashtra Additional DGP (Prison and Correctional Services) Sunil Ramanand said that as per provisions of Section 176 of the CrPC, an inquiry will also be conducted by a judicial magistrate into the death — apart from the police probe. “They will arrive at their own findings after the inquiries and decide on whether any criminal offence has been committed,” he said. Senior Police Inspector Suraj Bijli from the Nashik Road police station confirmed that a suicide note was found from Mansoori’s abdomen and said that a probe was ongoing.
Mansoori’s niece, who did not wish to be identified, said: “He would always be laughing, joking on video calls with us (after visits were stopped during the lockdown). In the last call a few weeks ago, he suddenly said that he does not feel like living anymore. When we asked why, he changed the topic.”
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