We are also humans. We are patriotic citizens and innocents who have been forcefully trapped in unholy plots and charged with terrorist cases. Today we are so distressed due to the never-ending torture that we are even considering commitment of suicide. Inhuman treatment is being meted out on us by the jail authorities which has depressed us so much that suicide seems to be the only option left to us.
Each of us here has been thrown behind bars in a somewhat similar manner. We have been illegally abducted from our houses, markets, fields, or streets, kept in illegal custody, made part of manufactured stories by violent means, and then after many days shown arrested with illegal materials in possession, from places like Barabanki, Lucknow, Unnav and others.
We have been miserably tortured in ‘high security’ wards. The torture continues even today in the form of intentional communal remarks.
Continuously locked in a moist, dark and dull cell measuring just 8 by 12 ft, we were never allowed to move out for even a minute. On 13th of June 2008, Friday we were beaten up with leather hunters and lathis, our bodies torn and broken down. The holy Quran was made unholy; its pages were torn and thrown in the toilet. All our clothes, bedsheets, books were confiscated. Infact, in the initial days itself restrictions were imposed in this regard – only 2 pairs of clothes, a lungi, a towel and not more than two underwears were allowed.
Troubled so much, we sat on a long hunger strike whereby we completely boycotted food in protest. Then from 27th January 2009 onwards we were let open for half an hour every day in a small verandah surrounded by walls so high that sunlight disappeared after 12 noon, let alone even a single trace of greenery. From December 2011 onwards after many requests our stay in the verandah was extended to an hour.
It must be brought to your notice that, keeping in sync with the prison manual, on the jail register we were always shown freely moving like other co-prisoners. But as said earlier, were always continuously locked in the small cell. Due to this people had started falling ill here. Whereas some have gone in to depression, others’ memory has been affected. Some others have started losing their vision.
Many years have passed since the magistrate responsible for jail investigation last stepped into the ‘High Security’ ward. High officials and authorities are not brought to this side to prevent us from complaining. Our requests are not forwarded to the authorities so that we remain deprived of human rights.
As per Supreme court guidelines, any under trial must not be kept in isolation when imprisoned. Even the convicted must be kept in isolation for not more than three months. Why are we being subject to illegal, inhuman and criminal behaviour when we are citizens framed under a plot?
Friends, in a situation marked by short sightedness of authorities, inaccessibility to higher officials, delay in decisions regarding cases and unavailability of medicines, many of us are depressed. This has led to frustration and restlessness amongst us and we have been forced to consider the validity and scope of suicide. This question about suicide is often raised to me during our conversations. How and what does one explain to such people? When they go out in fresh air for whatever little time they are let free during the day, they request for medical care and plead for their life. They are mocked at and told that even if they commit suicide or die otherwise, it would get covered up. They are openly told that they can complaint to whoever they like.
My heart is shaken seeing the helplessness of my co-prisoners and my own self here. Are we in an Indian jail or a British jail? Are we living in a secular state or a communal one?
We request you to help us. Actions taken on government dictates or with the help of authorities and courts, that are against human rights can be put to an end.
For the strength and success of this nation, please be kind and pay attention to helpless lives sobbing and crying in this hearth full of hatred. Because it is justice that gives strength to the nation and the State.
Mohd. Tarique Quasmi
High Security Cell
C Block District Jail
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh