Did police brutality result in the death of an undertrial prisoner in Bengaluru?

The prison officials have denied the charge – and claim he could have died from injuries he allegedly sustained when he was arrested, one year ago.
Did police brutality result in the death of an undertrial prisoner in Bengaluru?
Did police brutality result in the death of an undertrial prisoner in Bengaluru?
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On January 24, a 21-year-old undertrial prisoner, who was lodged at the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru, died in Victoria Hospital. His death has brought forth several daunting questions. Most importantly – did he die due to custodial torture?

Fairoz was arrested by the DJ Halli Police in January 2018 after they found 300 gm of marijuana in his possession, and was remanded to judicial custody. His parents are no more and with no other family members around to pay for his bail surety, Fairoz was awaiting trial at Parappana Agrahara Central Prison.

On January 19 this year, he was rushed to the prison hospital after his right leg was bruised and swollen. According to Dr Pramila at the prison hospital's OPD, who treated Fairoz, he had "greenish bruises on his right leg". "When we told him to obtain proper treatment, he refused. So we prescribed some medicines,” Dr Pramila told TNM.

On January 21, Fairoz's condition became critical and he was rushed to Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru's Kalasipalya area. "His blood pressure was dropping quickly and he had to be shifted out," Dr Pramila added.

According to doctors at Victoria Hospital, Fairoz was being treated in the jail ward of the hospital and his condition was stable. "When he was brought in to Victoria, we had to get in touch with someone. We found that his parents were dead. So the DJ Halli Police, who had arrested him, tracked down an uncle named Muzamil," a doctor at Victoria told TNM.

Fairoz's uncle was informed that his condition was stable and that there was no threat to his life on the night of January 23. However, on January 24 morning, Fairoz died.

An autopsy was performed, which concluded the cause of death as assault. Fairoz allegedly told his uncle Muzamil and the doctors at Victoria that the police at Parappana Agrahara Central Prison had beaten him mercilessly, according to hospital sources.

"Fairoz had bruises all over his right leg. There were also blisters on his upper thigh and the skin on the side of his upper thigh had been scraped off. He also had an injury on his left temple. It was caused by a blunt object," an official with the forensic department at Victoria Hospital said.

However, prison officials have denied that Fairoz's injuries occurred inside the jail – and instead claim that he might have been assaulted at the time of his arrest – one year ago. "When we had brought him inside the prison, he already had bruises on his legs. The police who arrested him had beaten him up before producing him in court,” a prison official claimed.

When questioned about the probability of their claim – that injuries sustained a year ago killed him now, the official rattled of a list of ‘other probable reasons.’ “This injury likely did not happen here (in the prison). Even if it did, it could have been when there was a prison fight. When this happens, police resort to lathicharge. These things are common. Or he could have got into a fight with an inmate," the prison official said.

Doctors at Victoria hospital say that Fairoz's injuries were not more than 10 days old when he was brought in for treatment.

DJ Halli Police denied assaulting Fairoz and alleged that the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison officials were trying to cover up the custodial death by blaming them. "They are trying to create medical documents which say that Fairoz had bruises when was lodged in the prison. No one assaulted him when he was arrested," a police officer at DJ Halli Police Station said.

The Parappana Agrahara Police have registered an unnatural death report. When TNM contacted the Parappana Agrahara Police, they refused to divulge information about the case. However, prison officials say that an inquiry will be lodged to investigate the incident.

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