A prisoner in Punjab’s Barnala district on Wednesday alleged that jail authorities tortured him and branded the word “attwadi [terrorist]” on his back, The Indian Express reported.
The prisoner, 28-year-old Karamjeet Singh, has been named as an accused person in over a dozen cases and has been convicted in one of them. He is serving a 20-year sentence in Barnala jail.
Singh made the allegations before a court in the Mansa district, where he was taken in connection with a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act case.
“The jail superintendent is a retired Army man and he has his own rules,” he said. “On October 24, a few prisoners and I objected to his autocratic behaviour following which we were beaten up. Later, the superintendent even branded ‘attwadi [ terrorist]’ on my back with hot iron. I have filed a written complaint.”
Singh alleged that the condition of inmates in the jail was deplorable, NDTV reported. “People diagnosed with AIDS and hepatitis are not kept in separate wards, and whenever I tried raising the issue of ill-treatment, the jail superintendent would beat me,” he alleged.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has ordered an investigation into the prisoner’s claims. Tajinder Singh Maur, the deputy inspector general (Ferozepur), has been appointed as the investigation officer in the case.
However, Barnala Jail Superintendent Balbir Singh dismissed the allegations and claimed they were “cooked up stories”, according to The Indian Express.
“Is it possible to write so neatly with iron rod in a jail with 600 prisoners inside?” he asked. “It seems he got the word written on his back [by someone] with ink used to create tattoos.”
The superintendent claimed that prison authorities had recently found a cell phone in the convict’s barrack during a search. He added that the convict had earlier tried to escape from police custody.
Akali Dal spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa, however, described the incident as “disgusting” and added that it was a serious violation of human rights.
“Malicious intent of [Congress] government to paint Sikhs as terrorists!” he said on Twitter. “...We demand immediate suspension of jail superintendent and strict action for human rights violation.”