on incidents human rights violation in Sabarmati Jail in Gujarat
17 April 2009
Preliminary Report of independent committee on incidents of 26-27th
March 2009 in Sabarmati Jail, Ahmedabad
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON INCIDENTS OF 26-27th
MARCH 2009 IN SABARMATI JAIL, AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT
CAMP: People’s Union for Civil Liberties c/o Gandhi
peace Foundation, Himavan, Paldi Char Rasta, Ahmadabad 380006
AHMEDABAD, April 16, 2009: An Independent committee of senior national
human rights activists has expressed its deep concern at the government
handling of the beating up of 22 inmates of the Sabarmati Jail on 25 March
2009, and has called for a full enquiry, preferably a judicial one by a
judge of the High Court, into gross violations of the Jail manual and
human rights norms established by the Courts and the NHRC. Regrettably,
the incident reinforces the image of Gujarat as a state where the human
rights of religious minorities and weaker sections are not honoured.
Inmates, most of them Muslim, who were on a hunger strike, were denied
medical attention after a brutal attack on them by jail staff, which left
at least three of them unconscious for so long as to start rumours in the
city that they had died. They were subsequently denied access to counsel,
their relatives were refused permission to meet them for three days, and
then the Sabarmati Police station failed to register an FIR as sought by
relatives and counsel of the victims.
The independent committee consisted of Dr. John Dayal, Member, National
Integration Council, Govt. of India, Adv. K. Kesavan, Joint Secretary,
CPCL, Tamil Nadu, Dr. J. S. Bandukwala, President, PUCL, Gujarat, Dr. S.
Q. R. Ilyas, Editor, Afkar-e-Milli, New Delhi, Mr. Gopal Menon, Film
Maker, Bangalore, Mr. Mahtab Alam,Coordinator, Association for the
Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), New Delhi, Ms. Harini Krishna, Film
Maker, Mumbai, and Ms. Ruchi Shroff, Civil Rights Activist, Mumbai was in
Ahmadabad from 15th to 16th April 09.
At a public hearing, the Committee heard statements from mothers, wives
and sisters of the jail inmates who gave detailed narrative of the events
in the jail as they had heard from the inmates when they were finally
allowed to meet them. The women presented blood stained clothes of the
inmates. Counsel gave the committee copies of the PIL filed in the Gujarat
High Court, the medical report filed by two lawyers who had met the
inmates in jail, as also correspondence with the jail and police
authorities seeking justice and medical care for the injured.
The committee made several efforts to approach the authorities. The
committee in fact went to the Sabarmati jail and met Superintendent
Chandrashekhar who refused permission to visit the concerned ward and meet
the inmates. Inspector general of police Mr. Keshav Kumar, despite a
written request followed up by repeated visits to his office and a
telephone conversation with him would not find time for the committee. The
visit to the Sabarmati Police station was an eye-opener where ACP Vaghela,
SHO Joshi and Inspector Parmar all but justified the violence against the
inmates saying they were criminals accused in Bomb blasts, and had
indulged in violence in the Jail. The three officers admitted an FIR had
been registered at the behest of the Jail authorities. They denied they
had even received complaints from the families of the victims in this
The investigating committee does not comment on the cases in which these
22 persons are in jail, or even on several other events that have taken
place in the Sabarmati jail in recent weeks which go to show that all is
not right with its administration. But it is clear from the testimony of
the relatives of the victims and the admission of the police officers that
the chain of events has been triggered off with the coming of the new Jail
Superintendent who stopped long standing practices of taking ill and
injured inmates to the civil hospital, provision of highly specialized
medicine and curtailed other rights. It was in response to this that the
prisoners went on a highly publicized hunger strike.
The committee will submit a detailed report in a couple of weeks. But it
is important to record its preliminary findings and recommendations.
Initial observation of the team
1. Beating of the Jail inmates are admitted in an affidavit filed by Jail
2. Draconian jail manual laid down by the British is followed till date,
even though parts of it are contradictory to our Constitution.
3. Advocates and relatives of the inmates were not allowed to meet for a
long time, which is a serious violation of Prisoners’ Rights.
4. No FIR of the relatives has been registered till date.
5. Inspire of 22 prisoners suffering injuries, some of them being
fractures, they were treated within the jail as our patients correctly,
they should have been admitted to civil hospital.
We demand that:
1. National Human Rights Commission should intervene on the issue and
report to the Supreme Court.
2. Proper medical help should be given by the civil hospital.
3. PUCL Gujarat and Human Rights groups should be allowed to meet and
gather first hand information.
Dr John Dayal
Prof J S Badukwala
Dr SQR Iliyas
Mr. Gautam Thakar