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Tihar jail: Prisoners raped, forced to remain silent

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Rapes are one of the most vicious crimes and now it seems that inmates in Tihar jail, the largest prison complex in South Asia, are being forced to keep mum despite being sexually assaulted.

In fact, Tihar authorities are often unwilling to even share details of such incidents, said sources at west Delhi’s Hari Nagar police station under whose jurisdiction the Central prison falls.

As per police data accessed by IANS, one case of rape with a male inmate was filed at the police station on May 10, 2015 while seven cases were registered last year.

Surprisingly, in 2013, 2011 and in 2010, no case of same sex rape was lodged. In 2012, police registered just one such case.

Sexual abuse is a real nightmare in the prison, according to Tihar jail sources.

“In spite of several prison reform sessions organised for inmates by Tihar jail authorities, the prison is a cruel place, especially for those who cannot defend themselves against bullies and predators,” said a former Tihar inmate, who was raped by other inmates during his jail term in a case of robbery.

Mukesh Prasad, the deputy inspector general of police (DIG), prisons, told IANS, “Cases of sodomy do occur in Tihar but the number is very low unlike the assumption in the outside world that it’s a rampant practice.”

The DIG said the overcrowded prison did not have space for such abuse.

“As the jail is overcrowded, it is very difficult for such kind of incidents to take place. But whenever we get a complaint, we take action and lodge a complaint with the police station,” he said.

A murder accused, who is out on bail, claimed that organised gangs were operating in Tihar jail who rape inmates at will.

“Rival gang members do not lose a single occasion to take revenge on other gang members. Inmates have to stay in groups while stepping out of cells to avoid getting caught by rival gangs or by an aggressive inmate,” he told IANS.

Former Tihar jail director general (DG) Kiran Bedi, known for her prison reforms, blames the authorities for the rape cases inside jail premises.

“Incidents of coercive sex and sodomy do take place in Tihar. CCTV cameras installed inside the jails ensure that all inmate movements are recorded. If rapes still happen, it means that the CCTV footage is not being monitored properly,” Bedi told IANS.

She said prisoners from a prosperous background manage to pay their way through and stay safe. But it is a different story for the poor and the physically weak.

“We have used education, sports and yoga to keep prisoners busy. They (prisons officials) are distracted with too many rich people there (in jail). Their attention is diverted by these rich people.

“Some people are bought out completely. When people are bought, what can the leadership do? Prisoners have to be kept in a normal routine to keep their focus away from negative thoughts,” Bedi added.

She said the authorities should also interview each prisoner so that such criminal acts can be stopped.

Apart from the money and muscle power of gangs, the culture of hyper-masculinity in prisons makes a sodomy victim the target of derision among fellow prisoners.

“Many learn to live with the pain and abuse and keep silent because of being threatened with dire consequences. Others sometimes become ‘prostitutes’ trading their bodies for protection. Some do it to earn cash or drugs,” a police officer told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The source said prisoners are tortured in a variety of ways apart from sodomy.

“Some dreaded and habitual offenders (inmates) always search for new victims. Other inmates cheer while watching the rapes,” the source said.

For some unfortunate ones, the torture never stops.

A prison official, who handled the December 16, 2012 main accused Ram Singh, recalls him trembling while asking the guards about his safety: “Will I be safe there in the prison? Will the inmates do something to me?”

Singh’s lawyer complained a number of times to the court that his client was being routinely raped in prison. Vinay Sharma, another accused in the same case, also said that he was raped on several occasions.

Eventually, Singh committed suicide due to unknown reasons. Last year, the Delhi High Court had asked the Delhi government and Tihar authorities to hold consultations and suggest ways to improve the prisoners’ condition.

A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report, based on data collected from Indian prisons between 2007 and 2011, revealed that a majority of suicides in the jails were because of same-sex rapes by fellow prisoners.

The report was prompted by the suicide of an accused in the Delhi gang rape case of December 2012 in Tihar jail.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Give Due Respect to the Dignity of the Dead : Supreme Court asks State Governments to Follow NHRC Guidelines

While directing the state governments, the supreme court of India has asked for full compliance with National Human Rights Commission

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Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia
  • The Supreme Court of India has asked the state government to respect the dignity of the dead
  • The state governments have been reminded to comply with National Human Rights Commission
  • The statements from the Apex Court comes as a complaint was filed by NHRC that the state governments are not enforcing their guidelines

July 19, 2017: The Supreme Court of India has reminded the state governments to follow and comply with the guidelines of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and respect the dignity of the dead.

These statements from Supreme court come as part of the complaint by the NHRC that the guidelines formulated on paper have never actually been enforced by any state of India.

The NHRC intends to assist the judicial system in criminal matters while maintaining the respect for human rights.

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According to the sources at PTI, the supreme court bench stated “It is not as if the dignity of only living persons needs to be respected but even the dignity of the dead must be given due respect. Unless the communications and guidelines laid down by the NHRC are adhered to, the respect and dignity due to the dead and the human rights of all us will remain only on paper.”

ALSO READ: Supreme Court asks Central Government take a Call on statutory regime for NRI Voting

The Supreme Court also noted the NHRC’s failure to bring out its annual report. The court’s verdict also mentioned “Several years have gone by since then, but no annual report has been published. We have no idea what is the stage of preparation or consideration of the subsequent annual reports.”

Indian Supreme Court has also reminded that the Constitution requires every state to have States Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

The verdict was a follow up of the probe into extrajudicial killings and fake encounters by Army.

 – Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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‘Dalit Foods’: Entrepreneur Chandra Bhan Prasad’s Initiative to fight Casteism in India

Chandra Bhan Prasad's 'Dalit Foods' is an effort that seeks Dalit empowerment via creating acceptability and ensuring inclusivity in the society

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Chandra Bhan Prasad, Dalit Foods. Image source: www.youtube.com
  • Chandra Bhan Prasad started ‘Dalit Foods’ in a bid to foray into food-processing industry, which still is difficult for a Dalit
  • The business is limited to Delhi for now, the expansion will be based on customers’ response
  • The website is basic one and lists mango pickle, turmeric, flax seeds, coriander and red chilli among other products

When in 1942, at All India-Depressed Class Conference, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar envisioned his “battle for freedom” and proclaimed, “with justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose our battle,” little did he know that even after 72 long years of struggle, his dream of realising social and economic equality for the marginalised will remain a far-fetched one.

Be it the very recent Rohith Vemula suicide case or the incident where 100 children left the school premises in Karnataka, refusing to eat food ‘contaminated’ by a Dalit cook in November 2015, the caste system continues to haunt the country.

India Today quoted a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) brought to surface that a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. Every day, on an average- 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered, and 2 Dalit houses are burnt.

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In the light of these shocking revelations, any effort aimed at mending the already incurred damage appears to be a huge step.

The Dalit Studies Conference. Image source: casi.sas.upenn.edu
The Dalit Studies Conference. Image source: casi.sas.upenn.edu

In one such effort, Indian journalist and political commentator, Chandra Bhan Prasad, has launched an e-commerce food business under the name ‘Dalit Foods’, which will test and challenge the age-old connection between caste and occupation as Dalits still find it extremely difficult to endeavour into the food and food-processing industries.

Speaking to Live Mint, Prasad who is also a Dalit entrepreneur and adviser to the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, termed the venture to be a “social experiment.”

According to him it is a risk taken to find out “whether there are any takers for Dalit food in India and if India has really transformed from a country where people thoroughly cleaned the kitchen if a Dalit even stepped into it to one in which people would buy food items knowing they are manufactured by Dalits.”

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Prasad also pointed out that the name ‘Dalit Foods’ holds a special significance and is “equivalent to making a political statement in a country where the Dalit has emerged as a political category.”

Prasad believes that though Dalits have come out and have engaged themselves with other communities, it is time for them to assert their identity openly and added that it was time the Dalits integrate with the society in a real sense.

While the business is limited to Delhi for now, the expansion will be based on customers’ response.

Started off as an e-commerce owing to the financial constraints, the website is a very simple one. It enlists mango pickle, turmeric, flax seeds, coriander and red chilli among the other products it sells, which serve as staples in any Indian kitchen.

“We have special turmeric which is grown in water-deficient Wardha district of Maharashtra. The coriander is from Bundelkhand. The red chilli is from Mathania in Rajasthan,” said Prasad.

He added, “The mango pickle I am selling is not like any other pickle. We don’t use any acid as a preservative. In my community too, there are some who are very poor and have thick chapatis with only red chilli and salt. Those who are relatively better-off use achar (pickle). So, achar for us, is made in a way that it becomes as good as a sabzi (curry).”

The business has been started with an investment of five lakh and is in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group.

While the venture is small-scaled for now, it intends to achieve big by seeking acceptance and inclusivity for the Dalits.

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Former ISRO Scientist: ‘International conspiracy’ halted India’s leap into space

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Image source: mathrubhuminews.in

Bengaluru: The indigenous cryogenic engine which was put on the pedestal last Friday for the third time by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) in a ground test proved its mettle. This huge step towards a geostationary satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) in December could prove to be the country’s first heavy-lift version in this field.

This was the third and final successful ground test of the indigenous cryogenic engine by ISRO.

The GSLV-Mark-III can carry a payload of four tons, about twice the capacity of ISRO’s existing rockets. The C-20 engine that was “hot tested” for 635 seconds at the Liquid Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu will be used to power the rocket’s upper stage.

But S Nambinarayanan, former Project director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems, says this milestone could have been crossed 12 years ago had his project not been derailed by an “international conspiracy” to halt India’s leap into space.

It was Nambinarayanan who introduced the liquid fuel rocket technology in India in the 1980s. The Vikas engine used today by all ISRO launch vehicles, including the one that took Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008 and Mangalyaan, was the result of two decades of work by his team with assistance from France.

And, as project director of the newly-launched indigenous cryogenic engine project, he plunged headlong into developing the propulsion systems for ISRO’s GSLV and interplanetary missions. With this in mind, in 1991, he signed a contract on behalf of ISRO with the Russian space agency Glavkosmos for the technology transfer of a cryogenic propulsion system.

But things did not turn out as planned. Glavkosmos, in 1993, reneged under pressure from the United States. And Nambinarayanan was arrested on November 1994 on charges of selling India’s “rocket secrets to Pakistan through two Maldivian women ‘spies’ leading to his suspension from his job.” With Nambinarayanan out of the scene, the cryogenic engine development suffered.

“Cancellation of the contract and my arrest were part of an agenda of the US, accomplished by conniving with officials of our Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Kerala Police,” Nambinarayanan told this correspondent in an email. As an evidence of conspiracy, he refers to the dismissal of an IB officer of the rank of the joint director in 1996 for his alleged links with the CIA.

In fact, in 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), which took up the “ISRO spy case” found it to be false and fabricated by the IB and the Kerala Police- a finding endorsed by the Supreme Court in April 1998 and by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in September 1999.

The NHRC also passed strictures against the Kerala government for having “tarnished (Nambinarayanan’s) long and distinguished career in space research apart from the physical and mental torture to which he and his family were subjected.”

Nambinarayanan says he managed to obtain the supplies and documents relating to the cryogenic engine from Russia’s Glavkosmos before it cancelled the contract and arranged a private airline (Ural Aviation) to transport the cargo to India in four shipments.

“With this, I hoped ISRO could master the cryogenic technology,” he said. But his suspension from ISRO’s cryogenics systems project put an end to that.

“Had there been no conspiracy, ISRO would have achieved space power status long back, maybe as early as 2000,” Nambinarayanan told reporters. “Today, we are not only delayed by more than 12 years but have also lost several billion dollars worth of launch business.”

The rocket scientist feels sad that while the CBI concluded that the ISRO “spy case” was false and fabricated, nobody bothered to unearth the motives behind it or punish those officers of the IB and the Kerala Police who were charged with negligence and dereliction of duty by CBI.

“The government should constitute a special investigation team to find out the total truth in the ISRO spy case,” he said.

While ISRO is celebrating last week’s successful “hot test” of its new cryogenic engine, Nambinarayanan, 75, who started this work two decades ago, is now spending much of his time fighting court cases, to get Rs 1 crore (Over $145,000) in damages he had claimed from the state and central governments.

He is also seeking action against police officers who framed him and others in a false case that harmed India’s space program. (K.S. Jayaraman, IANS)