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Central Jail incident: ‘Inmates Attribute Blaze To Teargas Shells’

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Srinagar: After last week’s incident at central jail Srinagar, the inmates are not allowed to meet any of the visitors or relatives and have also not being provided any newspaper or access to any media like TV or Radio, Kashmir High Court Bar Association said on Friday, days after its five-member team visited the prison.
“The Bar members found that after the incident, there has been a communication breakdown between the inmates and the jail administration,” reads a statement issued by the lawyers’ team.
Regarding the incident, the lawyers’ team said April 1, the representatives of the inmates were called by the Superintendent jail and asked them to evacuate barrack number 1-A and 1- B, as some repairs and construction work in bathrooms had to be undertaken.
The inmates, the report quoting them, suggested that let, first barrack 1-A be vacated and after completion of the work in the barrack, the other barrack may be taken up but the Jail Superintendent did not agree to the suggestion and ordered that both the barracks should be cleared within three days. “He ordered them to pack their belongings and put them in the small cabins and lock them up. The inmates had no choice but to obey his order and accordingly they vacated the barracks and packed their belongings and put them in the cabins and kept the keys of the lock of their cabins with them.”
On third day, the report says, the inmates heard a lot of hue and cry from barrack number 3 and 4 which is adjacent to barrack number 1-A and found that the jail authorities were forcefully dismantling the small cabins without allowing them to take their belongings and the books. “Since most of the inmates spend their time by reading Holy Qur’an and other religious books and literature, which has also been encouraged by the authorities over the period of time but this time the inmates got broken, as the authorities were using mechanical drills to dismantle the walls of the cabins and desecrating the Holy Qur’an in a most disrespectful manner, which they could not tolerate.”
“They sought some time to remove their belongings and to shift Holy Qur’an and other Islamic books, to some other place in a respectable manner, but their requests were not heeded to by the jail authorities.”
According to them, the lawyers teams said, they had never objected to dismantling of the cabins or cells as they had nothing to do with that matter. “But the authorities never heard them and went on with their demolition drive using machinery, men and equipment. This provoked sloganeering and the jail authorities brought in local police headed by Station House Officer of Police Station Rainawari and also a heavy contingent of CRPF, who after coming inside the jail, thrashed the inmates in their barracks with batons and all the members of force hurled abuses on them.” The report further added: “They used tear-gas shells and pellet guns on the inmates, inside the barracks, which caused serious injuries to two of the inmates. 17-year-old boy, Abid Kachru, received a pellet injury in his eyes and had to be operated upon on 11th April in the hospital. Another inmate Mukhtar Ahmad was seriously injured due to beating and has been recommended for ‘Shoulder Shaft Replacement’ by the doctors.”
Around this time, the report says, the inmates saw some barracks were in flames, and occasionally sound of blasts was also heard by them. “They attributed the blaze to teargas shells as according to them, as in one of the barracks, there was tailoring material which caused the fire.”
After the incident, the Superintendent came to them, and asked them to go inside their barracks which they immediately did, the report said. “They have narrated the whole incident to Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, on the next day, who assured them of an impartial enquiry into the incident.”
The Bar team found that the inmates feel that a conspiracy has been hatched against them and the State has adopted a hostile attitude towards them for their “political ideology and thought.”
“They feel that they will not be allowed any opportunity of proving their innocence before any enquiry officer which may be ordered in the matter or in the court of law. They feel that they may be shifted to some jail outside the State so as to prolong their trial and detention in jail. They have demanded that the whole incident should be got enquired into by the High Court and the enquiry should be supervised by a sitting judge of the court.”
The Bar team said that inmates also demanded that the FIR registered against them by the jail authorities “being an attempt to victimize them” should not be allowed to be investigated until the enquiry is gets completed by the High Court.
“They also want that they should be allowed to file a counter FIR and the members of International Redcross ICRC, SHRC, IHRC, Amnesty International and Asia Watch, be allowed to visit the jail at the earliest, so that the evidence which is available on spot is not destroyed or damaged by the jail authorities. They stated that if their demands are not met some of them are ready to commit suicide inside the jail, the responsibility of which shall be solely on the jail authorities.”
The team members have decided to submit their report before the Court of CJM, Srinagar, on Saturday as directed by the court on April 11 for an appropriate action which may be warranted by law.

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