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Human rights panel seeks report on ‘custodial torture’ in Nashik prison

Preliminary investigation by the state human rights commission this month found that prison staff was responsible for an assault on Vencil Roy Miranda.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | January 17, 2017 3:40:30 am
The two fake currency racketeers did not return to Nashik Road Central Prison after being released on furlough in March this year. Jinal Miranda, a Thane resident, wrote to the human rights commission that her husband, convict number 9986, was “brutally assaulted by a lot of prison guards on December 24 around 2 pm”. (Representational image)

The wife of a convict in Nashik jail has made allegations of physical torture and religion-based derogatory remarks against prison authorities in a complaint to the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission. Preliminary investigation by the state human rights commission this month found that prison staff was responsible for an assault on Vencil Roy Miranda. Last week, the MSHRC directed the prison to submit a report on the alleged custodial torture.

On December 28, Jinal Miranda, a Thane resident, wrote to the human rights commission that her husband, convict number 9986, was “brutally assaulted by a lot of prison guards on December 24 around 2 pm”. On December 27, when she went to meet her husband in Nashik prison, he had a swollen face and deep cuts all over his body. The complaint alleged Miranda was not taken for a medical check-up after the assault and has instead been confined in an isolated cell.

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“I was allowed to meet him only through ‘mulaqat section’. I saw Vencil was severely injured. There were bruises and deep assault marks on his face. His right eye is completely blue due to the assault. His entire face is swollen. His hair are chopped off. He couldn’t walk properly (sic),” the complaint read.

The wife has also made allegations of abuses hurled on Miranda based on his religion. Acting on the complaint, the SHRC assigned an investigation team to visit Nashik prison in January first week. According to the commission, the prison authority was responsible for assaulting the convict and of delaying medical care. Last week, a notice was issued to jail authorities to submit a report on the assault.

Miranda was detained in 2009 on charges of firing at a restaurant owner in Kalina. In 2014, Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court convicted him for life. In 2016, he filed a writ petition in court against prison authorities for parole leaves. According to complaint with the MSHRC, the prison guards hit Miranda on his head, eyes and limbs after the petition was filed. A request for a personal visit was later denied to his lawyer.

According to B K Upadhyay, additional director general of prisons, the notice of human rights commission has not reached him yet. “This is first such case. I have not received any complaints regarding this,” he said. The Nashik prison superintendent remained unavailable despite several attempts to contact him.

Maharashtra prisons recorded 114 deaths of inmates in prisons of which at least seven were unnatural deaths in 2015, data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed. In addition, five inmates were injured during clashes and firing among prisoners in the 54 prisons in 2015. Subsequently, there were four complaints registered from SHRC in Maharashtra prisons in 2015 for human right violations.

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