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India: Fasting Muslim prisoners beaten up in Bhopal


By Pervez Bari,

Bhopal, (Two Circles): What will Muslim jail inmates do while observing fast in the month of Ramzan when policemen deny them water for “Wuzu” (ablution) and eatables to break the day-long fast? These jail inmates are bound to raise their voices against the violation of their religious and human rights. The situation gets further surcharged when policemen allegedly scorn at their religion passing objectionable remarks about Ramzan and Islam and go about cane-charging them. In the scuffle that follows many inmates get injured, some of them seriously, with their faces splashed with blood.

Such a scenario prevailed here in Bhopal on Friday wherein about a dozen Muslim jail inmates were injured, eight of them seriously, when they were allegedly beaten up by policemen in the lockup of the district court where they had been brought up for hearing. The injured prisoners had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

The infuriated prisoners alleged that they were abused and brutally beaten up in the lockup by batons. They claimed that when they asked for water for “Wuzu” ablution to perform “Namaz” (prayers) in the evening and some eatables about half an hour before “Aftaar” (breaking of Muslim fast) the policemen refused and reportedly made objectionable remarks about Ramzan. When they protested the remarks vociferously, the policemen allegedly hit them. In the melee that ensued some of the prisoners sustained head injuries.

This angered the prisoners and they refused to leave the lockup inside the court to be taken back to jail. They staged “dharna” (sit-in) in the lockup inside the court premises. They insisted that they would not budge until media personnel were allowed inside the lockup so that they could narrate their plight and the inhuman behavior of policemen. The melodrama reportedly lasted for nearly four hours. In all 131 jail inmates were later taken back to jail in vehicles.

It is interesting to note that non-Muslim prisoners supported the fasting Muslim colleagues against the police high-handedness. The prisoners alleged that two policemen were abusive towards those observing fast during Ramzan and hurt their religious sentiments. Almost all the prisoners together with those who were observing fast blamed the two policemen for the situation. They alleged that policemen of district police line brutally beat them and also made objectionable comments. They raised slogans against constables Arun Malik and Amar Singh in particular. The jail inmates also alleged that they were not allowed to meet their kin and guards of police line forced them for bribe.

However, the police officials have refuted the claims of the prisoners and said that the injuries had been self-inflicted. They banged their heads against the walls of the lockup and in the process their faces got splashed with blood, they asserted

Officials maintained that the injured ones have been admitted in the hospital while a case in this regard would be registered after investigation.

Meanwhile, it may be stated here that a few days back there was a serious altercation between advocates of Bhopal district court and policemen leading to manhandling of some advocates. The working of the Bhopal district court is at standstill since advocates, thereafter, are on strike demanding action against the erring policemen who misbehaved with them.

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