Found hang­ing be­fore pun­ish­ment

Spl cell had warned Ram Singh was un­der threat Ev­ery­body gets a chance, rues mother

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY | HANGING BY A SLENDER THREAD - Neeraj Chauhan & In­drani Basu

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


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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All his­tory tick­ets to be re­tained in safe cus­tody It’s time for elec­tronic eyes and more tech­nol­ogy. Noth­ing stops jail of­fi­cials from mak­ing changes. Cam­eras can de­tect in­ter­nal vi­o­lence, sodomy, cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties |

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