NEW DELHI: Eight months after 8 Student Islamic Movement of India members were gunned down by police forces on charges of allegedly trying to flee Bhopal Central jail after breaking through, the relatives of the twenty-one others who are still in the same jail came to Delhi to file an official complaint at National Human Rights Commission against their alleged torture and the violation of jail manuals.

The relatives of these undertrials who were accompanied by human right activists and others filed a complaint with the NHRC alleging that ‘SIMI members’ inside the jail were subjected to brutal torture and that their jail rights in accordance with the jail manual are being violated completely. Justice Murugeasan of the NHRC assured the petitioners that he will personally look into the matter and NHRC will ensure corrective measures.

The relatives of the victims also alleged that these undertrials were being asked by the jail authorities to commit suicide. And that there was no reason for them to live anymore.

Mohammad Adil, brother of Mohammad Arif languishing in Bhopal Central Jail alleged that he was not being allowed to meet his brother according to jail manuals and when the rare permission is given, the authorities do not let them converse freely.

“According to the jail rules we are allowed to meet them once a week but this is just on paper, we have been time and denied meetings and even when they do allow us to meet, we are surrounded by policemen so that we cannot converse freely,” he said.

Other relatives of the prisoners alleged that they were given just one bottle of water for the entire day, with which they are supposed to clean themselves as well as quench their thirst. If they ask for more they are beaten up.

“My husband is not allowed to read the Quran inside the jail or perform Namaz, submission to God is their only ray of hope but even that is being snatched away from them, one can understand the kind of depression they must be undergoing.” a wife of prisoner Mohammed Zaheer said.

“Those lodged inside jails could not even tell us about their plight, it was only when they appeared on a video conference that they were able to expose what was going on inside the jail,” PUCLs Madhuri said.

The activist also alleged that the encounter on October 31, 2016 was fake and there was enough evidence to prove this. It is pertinent to mention that a story by Shahnawaz Malick and Suhas Munshi then with Catch News also produced an audio conversation between police personnel present at the spot with officers in the Control room on how they were directed to kill everyone who were without any weapon. The audio clip was produced as evidence by the mother of one of the deceased as proof to the court.

In the aftermath of arresting of the men from their house who were mostly the sole bread earners in the family, the women complained that it had a tremendous impact on their daily economic life.

Ambreen wife of Irfan told The Citizen, “ Since then we have been dependent on our old fathers and small children to make a living for us, there are no earning members in the family now, legal expenses are also quite a lot even if our lawyer does not charge us.”

People arrested on charges of terror also often have to go through severe social impact, their reputation is damaged, their children are taunted and they face a social boycott.

However, Nagma, wife of Mohammad Javed, said, “we didn’t have to face any social boycott, our relatives have been supportive all this while and so have been our neighbours.However, the difficulty arises when our children ask them about their whereabouts, we have been honest with them, they have understood what jail mean at a tender age and also have got a sense of the justice system of this country.”

Commenting on the reason behind this torture of undertrials, Madhuri said, “The police wants to create and fear psychosis among these under trails so that they do not speak up against the fake encounter which took place last year.”

Amidst all this a judicial commission has been formed to look into the authenticity of the last year encounter. The Commission is headed by a judge with reportedly RSS affiliations.

(Cover Photograph(File): Spot where 8 of the undertrials were gunned down for allegedly escaping from the Bhopal Central Jail)