PUCL Rajasthan - Condemn Killing of Prisoner in Bikaner Jail

Nov 15, 2023
Tags: Prisoner, Rajasthan Jail authorities, Murder, Prisoners mental health
Related Issue: Right to Life, Rights of Arrested Persons

  • The killing of Prisoner in Bikaner Jail a Black Spot on the Rajasthan Home Department
  • Demands independent Enquiry into the incident.
  • Compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to Sajid’s family
  • Appointments of Psychiatrists and Clinical psychologists in jail
  • Appointment of all deficit prison staff

The PUCL condemns the Government of Rajasthan, Home Department, and the State jail authorities at all levels, for having not protected the life and liberty and giving a safe space to 22 year old Sajid, who was lodged in Bikaner Jail, u/s 308, IPC (attempt at culpable homicide). Sajid was killed by a 40–45-year-old sec 302 convicted prisoner, Budhram, a patient of depression and had been put into a restricted access, special ward with 17 other prisoners, which included Sajid. Budhram picked up a stone slab covering a water drain in the barrack and smashed the head of Sajid in the early hours of 15th, November.

This murder in Bikaner Jail would have sent shock waves in all the prisons of Rajasthan, with the 25,000 population of prisoners feeling extremely unsafe as such a murder is a serious compromise in the systems of safety and security put into place by the Bikaner Jail authorities and the state Jail authorities. Immediate counselling would be needed for the prisoners who were in that Barrack and in the rest of the Jail.

Mental Health of Prisoners mostly neglected in Jails of Rajasthan

This incident clearly shows the failure of proper care of mentally disturbed patients by the Bikaner Prison authorities. This incident could have been avoided if proper medication and care protocols were taken care off.. The PUCL through its jail work knows that patients with depression or mentally disturbed ailments hardly undergo proper screening and medication. It is well known that the Jails of Rajasthan are mostly devoid of psychiatrists in the Jail hospitals, so was the case here. Our Jail for the last two decades or more in Rajasthan has shown that Patients are taken rather infrequently to the City hospital and their medication is also irregular.

What is shocking is that ten years ago in 2013 too, a mentally disturbed patient went berserk and killed three prisoners, with almost the same tool, which was a brick. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/murder-convict-goes-berserk-kills-3-inmates-in-bikaner/articleshow/20824905.cms

Similarly in Jaipur jail in February 2019 a Pakistani prisoner was also stoned to death by inmates.

What have the jail authorities learnt from these incidents which were serious lapses of safety protocols.

Lack of sufficient staff due non appointments.

This incident also shows the failure of the state to meet even the minimum standards of staffing in our state jails. The deficit in Bikaner at the constabulary level is 50 %, it is almost one constable manning two wards, how would protection happen of prisoners, if fights broke out between prisoners in the night. This is a serious lapse of the state in provisioning safety for prisoners. The total deficit in Rajasthan is 25 % of the required staff according to the NCRB data. Why are budgets of Jails not raised by Governments. Successive Government have failed the Jail department in Rajasthan, whether of the congress or the BJP.

Deaths due to Custodial violence in Rajasthan shows a huge number. According to a TOI news report, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/159-prisoners-died-in-jails-in-2-yrs-but-no-officer-held-guilty/articleshow/98746332.cms in response to a question asked by the BJP MLA Satish Poonia, more than 159 prisoners had died in Jails in Rajasthan, ( 80 Prisoners died in 2021 and 79 in 2022). Of which magisterial enquiry into the death of only 52 prisoners had been completed till March 2023 under section 176 CrPC. And till now nobody had been booked for any breach in rules leading to death. It is not the PUCL case that all deaths in Judicial custody are homicide or death due negligence, however, it is very important to make public the cause of all deaths, in order to restore faith and confidence in all the 25,000 prisoners in Jails.

The PUCL demands
• a compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to the family of Sajid as he was killed for no crime of his doing.
• an independent enquiry of academics and other citizens, into this murder in Bikaner Jail so that all angles including the communal angle can be examined.
• the immediate appointments of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in all jails including adherence to care protocols for all mentally disturbed prisoners.
• Immediate appointment of the deficit Jail Staff needs to be done and it should be a priority of the next Government.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi Anant Bhatnagar
(President) (General Secretary),

Pragnya Joshi
( PUCL Rajasthan Jail Initiative Coordinator )