Delhi riots: Change staff to address Khatoon's allegations, court tells prison authorities

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) A Delhi court Thursday directed Tihar Jail authorities to change the staff if required against whom student activist Gulfish Khatoon, arrested in connection with the February riots in north- east Delhi, had raised allegations of mental harassment.

Khatoon, booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, had alleged she was being subjected to communal slurs and mental harassment by the prison staff.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat said it appeared that there were some arguments between the jail staff and Khatoon and 'it is a version of the applicant (Khatoon) vs version of the jail staff'.

The concerned Jail Superintendent has conducted an inquiry, he said.

'In the facts of the case, I deem it fit, without getting into the allegations/denial of allegations, to instruct the Jail Superintendent to ensure that if need be, to change the ward of the applicant or change the staff on duty or other steps that he deems fit to avoid any confrontation,” the judge said in his order.

The court said if Khatoon had grievances about any offence being committed against her, she may move a complaint before the jurisdictional magistrate.

Khatoon, through her counsel advocate Mehmood Pracha, had alleged that she was being hurled abusive and communal slurs by the jail staff which caused her mental and emotional harassment.

Pracha had sought action against the official.

'I have a problem in jail. Ever since I was brought here I have been constantly facing discrimination by the jail staff. They called me educated terrorist and are hurling communal slurs at me. I am facing mental harassment here. If I hurt myself, only jail authorities will be responsible for it,' she had alleged.

The Tihar Jail Superintendent had earlier told the court that Khatoon was allegedly “aggressive” and had misbehaved with the prison staff on several occasions.

The authorities had stated she has been given correctional punishments to mend her behaviour earlier for allegedly misbehaving with the staff.

The Superintendent had further said that in view of repeated complaints by Khatoon and to avoid any further unpleasantness, the duty of the staff, against whom allegations were raised, have been changed from the ward.

The authorities had further said that as on October 15, 48 Muslim women inmates were lodged in Central Jail number 6, where Khatoon was lodged, and none of them made any such type of complaints.

They had stated that on inquiry, it was revealed that Khatoon as well as the staff had made complaints against each other and hence both the parties were heard and counselled to follow the jail rules and maintain discipline inside the jail.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. PTI URD SA