Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Muslim groups in Rajasthan have charged that over a dozen persons accused of carrying out and conspiring in the May 2008 serial blasts in Jaipur are being kept at the Central Jail here without basic amenities in violation of the Jail Manual and forced to make fresh confession despite the completion of investigation.

A five-member delegation of Muslim groups met Jail Superintendent Otta Ram Rohin here earlier this week to register their protest against the treatment being meted out to the inmates even though their alleged role in the blasts is yet to be established and the trial in the main case is yet to start.

One of the accused has complained that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials, being given access to the inmates in the jail, are compelling them to put signatures on plain papers. The ATS has already filed charge-sheets against all the accused in the court.

The delegation members, representing Jamat-e-Islami Hind and the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), pointed out that confining the accused in small and inadequately ventilated cells without electric fan in the present hot climate amounted to their “indirect torture”. They are allowed to come out of cells only for three hours daily.

The accused incarcerated in the jail for more than a year and a half include Mohammed Sarvar from Azamgarh and Shahbaz Ahmed from Lucknow, who have been charged with carrying out the blasts that claimed 70 lives. Thirteen other accused from Kota, Baran and Jodhpur are facing charges of involvement in the conspiracy and taking part in the activities of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.

Jamat-e-Islami Hind State president Mohammed Salim pointed out that some Azamgarh-based activists had recently approached the National Human Rights Commission with the request to direct the jail authorities to provide basic facilities to the accused and control the access of the ATS personnel to them.

The jail officials had assaulted the inmates on Id-ul-Fitr on September 21 last year, when they sought permission to offer prayers along with other prisoners in the jail compound. The State Government later suspended the Jailor and a police constable on charges of torture.

Mr. Salim said the Jail Superintendent assured the delegation that he would try to provide facilities under the Jail Manual in ward No. 10, where the accused have been lodged in judicial custody, and ensure that they are not compelled to put signatures on any paper against their wish.

Sarvar's counsel Paikar Farooq, who is also APCR State convenor, has moved an application in the court in connection with the ATS allegedly forcing his client to make a fresh confession. The Additional District Judge (Fast Track) No. 1, Jaipur City, has asked the ATS to submit its reply in the matter.

Muslim groups regretted that the Congress-led Government in the State had accepted without demur the brief given by the previous BJP regime in the blast investigation. “Even the Investigating Officer in the case has not been changed and there is no mechanism to stop the arrest of innocent persons on dubious charges,” said Mr. Salim.