The death of a 19-year-old undertrial prisoner, Syed Fairoz, has raised suspicion, especially about whether he was tortured inside the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru. Fairoz’s brother, 22-year-old Syed Tabraiz, has alleged that Fairoz was beaten up by five police officials inside the prison sometime in the third week of January.
"When my brother was admitted to Victoria Hospital on January 21, no one informed me. One of my friends had received a call from my other brother Afroz, who is in the same jail. Afroz had informed my friend that Fairoz was brutally beaten and was taken to a hospital in the city. I was trying so hard to find my brother and no one was giving me any information. On January 22, I received a call from a police officer, who said that Fairoz was in Victoria Hospital," Tabraiz claims.
He rushed to the hospital, only to find Fairoz covered in bandages, barely able to speak. Tabraiz allegedly waited for his brother to gain consciousness and asked him about the injuries.
"My brother told me that over a week ago, he had gone to one of his friend's cells to talk to him. Fairoz wanted his friend's protection as he felt threatened by the guards," he says. "If you have to understand what happened to him, you should also know some other things. I was also arrested in 2017 under false charges and was released only three months ago. We all know how horrifying it is inside that prison. Fairoz, Afroz and I were all lodged in the same block (Block 3), which is for undertrials. There is a system there. All those who cannot afford to pay for the cells, will be cramped together in the block. Those who can pay Rs 30,000 per month, will be lodged in a cell. There will be three or four people in those cells. There are VIP and AC cells too. Those who can pay anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 70,000 per month get to stay in cells by themselves with a separate TV, cot, mobile phone and 4G. The prison guards sell mobile phones for Rs 50,000 per handset, which will also have a SIM card and 4G connection. There is a separate ganja block in the jail, where ganja is sold. One joint is sold for Rs 100," Tabraiz alleges.
Fairoz had allegedly gone to visit a friend in one of these cells in order to make a phone call and alert someone that he may be in danger. Tabraiz alleges that all undertrials, who are in the lower-level blocks, had to pay Rs 100 to the prison guard in order to be able to go visit the prisoners lodged in the privileged cells.
"Fairoz told me that he had paid Rs 100. But when he was coming out, there was a different guard and he too demanded payment. Fairoz did not have any more money and he argued with the guard saying he had paid the money while entering. The guard then called the other guards and a police officer, and they took him to the command room. Fairoz told me that the prison guards, along with a police officer Murali took him to the command room," Tabraiz claims.
Fairoz was allegedly beaten black and blue with thick logs by these policemen until he could not move. Tabraiz alleges that Fairoz was then kept inside the command room for three days and was given no treatment. "They had beaten him severely on his right leg and he also had an injury to his left temple and a few bruises on his left arm. When his condition worsened, the police tried to put hot water on his leg to bring down the swelling. When that did not work, they took him to the prison hospital on January 19," Tabraiz claims.
According to Tabraiz, Fairoz had allegedly pleaded with the police officials to give him proper treatment as he was in immense pain. They allegedly gave him tablets, which made him drowsy but Fairoz could not fall asleep or rest due to the pain.
"Finally, they got him to the hospital on January 21, when the doctors at the prison hospital realised that he was not able to breathe. When I went to visit him, they took away my phone and they did not let me talk to him for long. The doctors did not tell me what was wrong with him or why he was covered in bandages. Fairoz finally told me and I was shocked. He was in so much pain," Tabraiz adds.
On January 23, at 4.40 pm, Fairoz breathed his last. According to the preliminary autopsy report, which TNM has accessed, Fairoz had developed a 73x24 cm wound on his right leg from his pelvis to his foot. He had injuries on his left arm and elbow, and left temple and forehead.
"Patient was admitted on January 21, 2019. Contousions on the front and sides of his right leg had turned gangrenous with necrotic changes and epidermal blebs. Both lungs exudes pus with bloody froth. Patient experienced multi organ dysfunctional syndrome, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) with acute kidney injury (AKI). Patient went into septic shock with DIC and AKI," the autospy report states.
His viscera samples have been sent to the histopathology lab for further analysis. "We can submit our recommendations on whether there was any torture involved only after the report comes back," a doctor at Victoria Hospital told TNM.
Tabraiz is now running from pillar to post just to get an FIR registered against the prison guards, who allegedly assaulted Fairoz. "This is not right. Just because we are poor and cannot defend ourselves, just because we were once in prison, we are treated like second-hand citizens. I have been working in an orchard just to stay away from the police. When they falsely accused me two years ago, they even told me that they had picked me up because I was a convenient target. I will not give up until justice is served," Tabraiz says.