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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

Jail official summoned for alleged torture

Bharat Khanna , Hindustan Times  Bathinda, October 06, 2013
First Published: 20:49 IST(6/10/2013) | Last Updated: 20:50 IST(6/10/2013)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday summoned an assistant jail superintendent for torturing a jail inmate who had unearthed a drug supply scam inside the prison, and sought information about the number of deaths of prisoners.

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The court was hearing a petition filed by the wife of central jail prisoner Jarnail Singh, 52, from Patiala, against jail official Baldev Singh Kotha. Jarnail's wife Paramjit Kaur, 43, had alleged that Kotha had brutally tortured her husband and tried to poison him, causing paralysis, after he sought information about the number of prison deaths following the death of a fellow-prisoner.

“In april, prisoner Gamdoor Singh was brutally killed in Bathinda jail, following which my husband sought information under the Right to Information Act about the number of deaths in jails of Punjab. Furious over the move, jail officials tried to kill him by asking another prisoner Amrik Singh to give him a capsule of poison, but he refused,” she alleged.

She further alleged, “One side of my husband's face is totally crumpled and he is paralysed after being tortured by Kotha, but proper treatment is not being provided to him. The inmates who gave a statement against Kotha in the high court in the case of Gamdoor's death are frightened are being constantly threatened by the officials. I will fight for justice till my last breath.”

The prisoners, who were witnesses in the Gamdoor Singh death case, had also submitted a letter in high court accusing Kotha of threatening them, and sought protection.

Abhishek Arora, counsel for Jarnail said, “The assistant jail superintendent had been summoned by the high court for torturing Jarnail Singh. The case would be heard on November 4 this year.”

Jarnail had completed seven years of imprisonment out of the ten awarded to him in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and is lodged in Bathinda jail. He was earlier lodged in Fatehgarh Sahib jail, where he unearthed a drug supply scam.

Police brutality

Gamdoor Singh of Bhodipura village, Bathinda, was lodged in Bathinda jail since July, 2012, in an NDPS Act case, but died under mysterious circumstances inside the prison on April 29 this year. His death was marked by protests by family and labour unions, who alleged police torture.

On April 4, Jogpreet Singh of Nawanshahar, who was over six ft tall, was found hanged in a Bathinda jail bathroom around 6.5 ft high. Jogpreet sentenced to seven years imprisonment, after being booked under Sections 363, 366, and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code at women police station in Nawanshahar. He was transferred to from Hoshiarpur to Bathinda jail on January 1, 2011.

Three prisoners died under mysterious circumstances within one week of each other in February 2012. Balwant Singh, booked for murder, and Ashwini (23) of Bathinda, accused of theft and robbery, died on February 12. Preetam Singh (85) died at PGIMER in Chandigarh, under suspicious circumstances, on February 13, 2012.

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