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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Naked at Dum Dum: Rights body takes note

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, February 19, 2013
First Published: 13:16 IST(19/2/2013) | Last Updated: 13:29 IST(19/2/2013)

A day after HT exposed how a Dum Dum Jail inmate was stripped, beaten and handcuffed, the state human rights commission swung into action and sought a detailed report from the jail department.

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But, going by what had happened to another inmate who went through the same ordeal around three years ago, justice could be limited to a customary routine inquiry.

“We’ve taken suomotu cognisance and asked Ranvir Kumar, inspector-general, correctional homes, to conduct a probe and submit the report within two weeks,” Sujay Halder, joint secretary, SHRC, said.

“I’ve told the DIG (South), correctional homes, to probe it and submit the report in time,” Kumar said. Armed with HT’s report, the family members of Bikram Mahato, the undertrial who was tortured, have decided to move court on Tuesday.

“We’ll move court and submit documents to prove how my brother was tortured. We’ll also appeal before the court to bring him before us,” said Rupa, Mahato’s sister. The Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights has also decided to take up the matter.

“We’ll visit the victim’s home to know the truth,” said Dhiraj Sengupta, general secretary of APDR.

On October 15, 2010, Sheikh Farhat Mehmood, an undertrial prisoner, was beaten up and stripped in Presidency Central Jail (which was reported in HT). Despite a government probe, it was the victim who took the heat. “We’ll have to look into the files to give you the details,” an officer in the jail department said.

Like Mahato, Farhat, too, had raised his voice against bad food and wanted time outside his cell which other inmates enjoyed. He was lodged in the solitary cell block known as PailaBaish (cell block 1 to 22).

But his request made the guards so angry that they beat him up and kept him naked inside his cell right throughout the night in the cold.

“Immediately after the news broke, Farhat was harassed by the jail officers. During investigations, his statement was not recorded. Instead, the jail officers wanted to know how the photographs reached media houses,” Farhat’s brother, Sheikh Wajahat Mehmood, alleged.

Farhat, from J&K, was arrested in connection with the seizure of 25,000 rounds of ammunition in West Port in 2003.


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