A judicial probe into the death of a minor Muslim boy, who was locked up with hardened criminals at an age of 16 in the jail, has found "negligence" by jail staff over the use of phone by the undertrial.
The boy's death on May 27 this year, attributed to mysterious reasons, has brought the Kapurthala police under scanner for hiding his age and, most serious of all, sending a minor to jail.
In his inquiry submitted to Kapurthala district and sessions judge, chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Amit Thind has written that there has been some amount of negligence by the jail officials as one of the undertrials had a phone, which was used by the deceased to call his family a day before his death.
Further, the family alleged that he was murdered by someone as he had been threatened by person whose phone he was using to call his family and the actual facts could be ascertained only after the call details of phone number (99155-81698) and its ownership were ascertained by the police.
The CJM further mentioned that the use of mobile phone was prohibited within the jail premises by undertrials.
However, the final opinion in this matter can only be given after the report of viscera from chemical examination is received and the medical experts opine regarding the cause of the death.
HT has collected copies of inquiry report under Right to Information Act 2005.
The post-mortem of the body was conducted by the medical board of three doctors, including Dr Sarika Duggal, Dr Ravjit Singh and Dr Rajiv Prashar and the viscera was sent for the chemical examination. The report is still awaited.
During the inquiry, the boy's mother gave a statement to the CJM that her son had called her from phone number (99155-81698), saying that he was being troubled by people whose phone he was using. She said her son was being forced to press their hands and feet and was threatened by those guys that in case he did not comply by their orders, they would kill him.
As per Juvenile Justice Act, minors in custody can be kept only at observation home and not in a jail meant for adults. HT has a copy of the boy's Aadhar card, which shows that he was born in 1998, which meant his age must be 16 years and two months when the Kapurthala Sadar police arrested him on May 28, 2014.
Speaking to HT, Farad Hussain (22), brother of the deceased, said police have yet to give any detail of that phone number (99155-81698) through which his brother revealed about the threats from other undertrials in his barrack.
He said his mother Noor Jahan was suffering from heart illness and family was even finding difficulties in arranging money for her medicines.
Hussain, who broke down while revealing the story, added that his minor brother was learning hairdressing skills from a local hairdresser and was earning Rs 300 per month as an intern with him.
He said after his father left them, mother was the only breadwinner, but now, she has been suffering from a heart ailment and family did not have money for her treatment. "I also have two sisters, one brother and a pregnant wife in the family", Hussain said, adding that they did not have much resources to support the family.