In a grim reminder of the horror of Abu Ghraib (also known as the Baghdad Correctional Facility during the war in Iraq, which came to public attention beginning early-2004), a 35-year-old undertrial inmate was beaten up, kept naked and handcuffed in a cell in the high-security Dum Dum Central Jail.
Bikram Mahato, the undertrial at Dum Dum Jail, bears the marks of torture. HT Photo
And all this for protesting against bad food served to him behind bars.
Interestingly, the victim, Bikram Mahato, was forced to drink bleaching powder solution in September last year, also for protesting against bad food. He was admitted to RG Kar Hospital and later returned to jail.
“I have no information of any such incident,” Ranvir Kumar, I-G (Prisons) told HindustanTimes.
Mahato, a resident of Icchhapur and an undertrial in a murder case, is lodged in Dum Dum Jail for almost a year. He was lodged in cell No. 5 inside the jail.
The brutality began on the morning of February 13, when he protested and demanded that proper food be served. His family alleged that the jail guards, led by jailor VK Singh, stripped him and beat him up.
“The beatings continued for two days. He was kept naked and handcuffed in one of the cells as the beatings continued.
“I visited him on February 14, but the jail authorities told me he was sick and did not allow me to meet him. They didn’t send him to court, either. The torture was led by VK Singh, who even threatened to kill him,” Rupa Mahato, sister of the victim, said.
“Under no circumstance can any prisoner, especially an undertrial, be handcuffed inside the jail premises. In any event, the jail authorities can’t beat him up or apply third-degree torture.
“If the incident is proved true, the jail superintendent is liable to face disciplinary action, which may even lead to his dismissal,” Arunava Ghosh, senior advocate and Congress leader, said.