Jail staff in Indian Punjab blamed for engraving ‘terrorist’ on prisoner’s back

New Delhi, November 05 (KMS): An under trial prisoner in Barnala district of Punjab has accused the superintendent of the jail in which he is lodged of engraving aatankwadi (terrorist) on his back and torturing him, prompting the Indian Punjab government to order a probe into the matter.

Stating that the condition of inmates in the jail is “deplorable”, the prisoner in question – 28-year-old Karamjit Singh – said, “People diagnosed with AIDS and hepatitis are not kept in separate wards, and whenever I tried raising the issue of ill-treatment, the jail superintendent would beat me.”

He made the allegation at a court in Mansa district, where one of his cases, filed under the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act, was being heard. After Karamjit disclosed the matter, pictures purportedly showing his back where the word aatankwadi (terrorist) is engraved have circulated online, sparking outrage.

However, jail superintendent, Balbir Singh, denied the allegation and described Karamjit as a “repeat offender who has a habit of sharing concocted stories”.

“He faces trial under 11 cases, ranging from NDPS Act to murder, and now he is making these allegations because he is upset with us. We keep searching the barracks and we found a cell phone in his barrack…even when he was lodged in Sangrur district,” said Balbir Singh, adding that Karamjit Singh had once even escaped from police custody.

Meanwhile, deputy chief minister Randhawa has instructed ADGP (Jails), P.K. Sinha, to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter along with the medical examination of the prisoner. Tajinder Singh Maur, the DIG (Ferozepur), has been made the in-charge of the investigation. The probe began on Thursday, November 4.

On the other hand, Akali Dal spokesperson Manjinder Sirsa criticised the Charanjit Singh Channi government over a “serious violation of human rights”.

Taking to Twitter, Sirsa said: “Malicious intent of Congress government to paint Sikhs as terrorists! Punjab Police beats under trial Sikh prisoner and engraves word ‘atankwadi‘ on his back. We demand an immediate suspension of jail superintendent and strict action for human rights violation,” he added.