NEW DELHI, India: The Jodhpur detainees are being given treatment worse than that meted out to convicts, even though, as under trial prisoners presumed to be innocent until proved guilty, they should be treated better than convicts.

This was one of the findings of a four member team from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) which visited Jodhpur Central jail last month in order to see the conditions in which the detenus have been jailed. Three of its members who are lawyers spoke at length to 30 of the detenus, and examined the charge sheets filed against them by the police to ascertain the strength of the prosecution case against them.

According to the press statement issued by the team, consisting of Mr. V.M. Tarkunde. Dr. Aurobindo Ghose, Mr, T.S. Ahuja and Mr. Nayteg Singh, the Jodhpur detenus can only be visited by their parents, brothers, sisters, and adult children. Other relations are not allowed to visit them, nor friends, whereas convicts can be interviewed by both relatives and friends.

The detneus and the visitors are kept in two separate “cages”, says

The statement, with iron bars and wire netting, with an eight feet corridor between them, whereas convicts and other prisoners only have a wire netted wall between them and their visitors. “There is no justification whatsoever for this discrimination”, the statement comments.

The detenus, being under trials, are entitled to facilities like indoor games, transistors, etc. which are denied to them, the statement continues. Newspapers supplied to them are censored, with all news of Punjab cut out of them. Even medicines prescribed by the jail doctors or medical experts are not made available to the detenus, and 23 of them are said to have been affected by different degrees of mental illness,

According to the PUCL team, not a single criminal act has been alleged against any of the 364 Jodhpur detenus in the two charge sheets filed against all of them.

Article extracted from this publication >> April 1, 1988