Report claims inmates ‘stripped and tortured’ at Kot Bhalwal, SHRC takes note

Taking suo-moto cognisance of alleged torture and stripping of a prisoner at Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has issued a notice to top police and jail officials seeking a detailed report on the incident.

Member SHRC, Jang Bahadur Singh Jamwal, issued the notice to the Director General of Police (DGP), Director General Prisons, Superintendent and medical officer of central jail following a media report titled “Kot Balwal jail turns Abu Gharib prison”.

The report carried by a Jammu-based English daily claimed that the jail authorities subjected under-trials to physical torture besides stripping.

“In a (sic) latest episode, a disturbing photograph from the jail is being circulated within police circles, in which an inmate is shown completely naked with jail authorities incurring physical torture on him,” the newspaper had reported.

“According to sources within the jail, such incidents are common with the inmates wherein they are subjected to torture and abuses, denting the very sanctity of human rights,” the report said.

“Prima-facie, I am satisfied that this act of the jail authorities is a glaring violation of human rights and is required to be dealt with heavy hands,” Jamwal said.

“Before proceeding in this case and visiting the jail personally, it would be most appropriate that the DGP, DG Prisons and Superintendent of Central jail, Kot Bhalwal Jammu, are afforded an opportunity to submit a detailed report,” the SHRC member said.

“Notice also be sent to medical officer of the jail to report whether he or she has examined and provided medical aid to the victim inmates of the jail,” he directed while calling for the detailed report within 30 days.

The commission also lamented the fact that the authorities were unaware of the embargo laid down by various judicial pronouncements.

“Unfortunately, despite the embargo laid down by various judicial pronouncements, the authorities ignore them as they are unaware of it. They have to protect the honour and dignity of all inmates of the jail,” it said.

“It has been held by various pronouncements of the Supreme Court and high courts of the country that the inmates have same rights guaranteed under the constitution of India,” the human rights body added.

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