The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to two top Karnataka prison officials taking cognisance of a complaint about alleged torture and transfer of 32 convicts serving terms in the Central Prison here. An NHRC release here said the complaint alleged the prisoners were beaten black-and-blue and shifted overnight (on July 16) in an injured condition to various other prisons at Mysore, Ballari, Belagavi and Davanagere. According to the complaint, lodged yesterday by BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje, the family members of these prisoners were not being allowed to meet them.
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The complaint was filed a day after the prisoners, in a sudden move, were shifted at around 1 am to jails in Ballari and Belagavi for allegedly trying to voice their grievances. The commission observed that the allegations of physical torture of the prisoners and their overnight transfer to other jails in an injured condition, if true, raised a serious issue of violation of their right to life and dignity. It issued notices to Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) and Inspector General (IG), Prisons, asking them to file within four weeks a detailed report on the allegations, along with a note on the current location and health condition of the “injured and shifted” prisoners.
“It need not be restated that a prisoner is not a slave of the State and is not denude of his fundamental rights while in judicial custody,” the release said.
Allegedly, the prisoners were meted out this “inhuman” treatment because of their bid to stage a dharna inside the jail premises as they were not allowed to speak to (then) DIG (Prisons) D Roopa, who had visited the jail, it added. Roopa had recently flagged certain “grave irregularities” inside the Central Jail, including providing a sophisticated kitchen to one of the prisoners, (AIADMK Amma chief) V Sasikala, and VIP treatment to another prisoner, Abdul Karim Lala Telgi, the release said.
The issue of alleged preferential treatment to Sasikala, serving a four-year term in a disproportionate assets case, came to the fore after Roopa submitted a report to her superior, DGP (Prisons) H N Sathyanarayana Rao.
Both Roopa and Rao were transferred after they sparred over the report in public. The government has also ordered a probe by a retired official into the allegations. The release said that according to the complaint, the 32 prisoners were allegedly shifted in a hasty manner in order to avoid any disclosure to the inquiry officer.