Found hanging before punishment
Spl cell had warned Ram Singh was under threat Everybody gets a chance, rues mother
Any custodial suicide raises questions about the quality of prison monitoring. Especially in such a high-profile case, how can there be a slip? It also points at lack of psychological monitoring of inmates New Delhi: Ram Singh “never showed any suicidal tendencies or signs of depression” during his psychological analysis, by Tihar doctors and local police, sources said. That makes the circumstances of his death intriguing and raises questions on the prison’s handling of the undertrial.
Ram Singh was lodged in a 15X12-foot cell with three undertrials. This ward has 24 other cells housing hardened criminals. Only one warden patrols the ward at night and he hands over charge every day at 6am after the first roll call. Only one CCTV camera monitors the ward. The watchers get a view of the ward, but not of what goes on inside cells. “Preliminary investigations show that the warden guarding these 25 cells last night had moved from his position,” a top prison source said.
Technically speaking, this way of guarding cells is called ‘high watch’. It’s impossible for one guard to keep an eye on all the cells simultaneously. So, the warden moves from one to the other. In Ram Singh’s case, police say, a special guard should have been posted round-the-clock outside his cell given the sensitivity of the case and the likelihood of attacks on him.
Tihar officials said Singh was never put under suicide watch. “He was under ordinary security and guards patrolled his cell. CCTV cameras are mounted only in high-risk cells, not elsewhere,” a senior jail official said.
Around two months ago, the Delhi Police special cell alerted Tihar of the high possibility of attacks on the Nirbhaya case accused. The police had asked jail officials to increase security, sources said. Worse, the accused were allegedly beaten up when they were first brought to the prison.
In mid-January, the Special Cell was listening in on criminal Amit Shukla’s clandestine phone conversations from inside Tihar. One intercept said that “Shukla was planning to kill all five accused on way to Saket court”. Shukla is in jail for the murders of TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan and Jigeesha Ghosh in 2009. Special Cell, sources said, had
WHAT’S SUICIDE WATCH
alerted the South District police and Tihar about the threat. Still, Ram Singh was kept with three inmates in a cell of Ward number 2, jail number 3.
Investigators don’t believe the suicide theory because the ventilator Ram Singh hanged himself from is at a height of eight feet. “Ram Singh was around 5 feet 5 inches tall. Even if he used a bucket to reach the ventilator, it would be impossible for him to tie a rope properly and hang himself. It is impossible for the three other cell inmates not to have heard anything a Ram Singh hanged himself,” a police officer said.
Tihar took two hours to alert the local Hari Nagar police station about the alleged suicide around 7.45am. Ram Singh’s body was discovered around 5.45am. The investigating team of Vasant Vihar police was alerted at 9.30am. “We came to know through the media, not from Tihar. Subsequently, instead of a PCR call, Hari Nagar police informed us around 7.45am. Why the delay,” an officer wondered.
An officer, who was part of the team that arrested Singh and filed the chargesheet against him, claimed they recently requested the court that he be handcuffed, even in jail, if he’s being kept with others. This was because the gangrape accused had been beaten up in the jail and “Ram Singh was generally very violent”. New Delhi: Alleging “foul play” behind the death of Ram Singh, the key accused in the Delhi gang-rape and murder case, his family and lawyer have demanded a CBI probe.
“There is some foul play. He cannot commit suicide. He is not such a person that he can commit suicide. He was very happy with the way the trial was going,” alleged V K Anand, the lawyer who represents Singh and his brother Mukesh.
Anand said he would move the Supreme Court for shifting the trial out of Delhi as the accused were not safe here.
Singh’s family also alleged that he was murdered. “His shirt was torn which shows there was a scuffle before the death,” father Mange Lal claimed. “Nobody did anything to protect him even inside the jail. He told me last week that inmates were planning to kill him. He has been murdered and then hanged. I am sure that evidence has been tampered with. He could not move his hand as freely as it had a fracture.”
His inconsolable mother rued, “He should not have been killed. Everybody deserves a chance. They will kill my second child also.”
Singh was earlier beaten up inside jail and brutalized, claimed the family. “Both my sons had told me that they were sodomized inside the jail,” said Mange Lal.
A P Singh, counsel of accused Vinay Sharma and Akshay Singh, said he wanted his clients to be shifted out of Tihar. “Tihar is no more safe for them. They will also be killed,” he said.
“The demon that led Ram Singh to do what he did with my daughter also led him to his death,” Nirbhaya’s father said. Struggling with a painful knee infection, he hoped that the alleged suicide wouldn’t affect the trial.
Nirbhaya’s family got to know about Singh’s strange death around 7am on Monday. Her mother said the family had mixed emotions about the turn of events. “We lost our
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