The Tihar Jail authorites have informed the Delhi High Court on Monday that that "some foreign prisoners forced their way out of the ward and also damaged the locks of gates"
"On 16.06.2020 morning, 15-20 foreign inmates created problem in the jail. They forced their way out of the ward and also damaged the locks of gates of Ward No. 9 and Chakkar.
"Sensing trouble and having no other alternative, Alarm was sounded in the jail at around 8.30 a.m., reinforcements called and these inmates were physically controlled by minimum use of force," the jail authorities said in a status report filed before a single judge bench of the high court presided by Justice C. Harishankar.
This comes days after Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal, who is currently in judicial custody in the Tihar Jail in a case relating to Delhi riots, told the Court that the video conferencing facility in jail was suspended after "large scale violence" took place.
"In the process, 15 inmates and 10 jail staff have suffered minor injuries. They have been given treatment in the jail dispensary by the jail doctors. Punishment as per jail rules will be made against the defaulting inmates," Tihar said in its response.
A day before the incident took place, some of foreign inmates came to the Deodhi of the jail in the morning on some pretext and refused to leave till late evening, despite repeated counseling/persuasion by the jail officers. Since the jail has to be locked up in the evening, they had to be physically removed to different cells in the jail by the jail staff where they were locked.
The jail authorities told the court that foreign inmates of Cental Jail no. 6 in Tihar Complex, have been agitating for some time demanding that they should also be considered for grant of interim bail. Jail Authorities have been consistently counseling them and briefing them that their cases are not falling under the prescribed criteria for consideration of grant of interim bail.
"However, they have also been told that even if their cases do not fall in the criteria, they are free to move application independently in the Hon'ble Courts for either interim bail or regular bail through DSLSA lawyers or private lawyers. However, these inmates repeatedly resorted to agitation / protest and did not seem amenable to reason," the report stated.
In response to Narwal's contention that the video conferencing facility, the jail staff said that the her counsel had conducted video conferencing successfully with her on 24.06.2020 and next video conference session of Narwal with the Counsel will be conducted on 29.06.2020 in the evening.
It also told the court that Narwal availed the facility of calling her family on telephone 08 times so far.
"With regard to the prayer of the instant petition which inter alia relates to providing of books and reading material, it is submitted that 13 books and 2 registers have been provided to her," said the status report filed by the jail authorities.
During Monday's hearing, Narwal's counsel argued that since the petitioner is accused in multiple FIRs, he shall be granted more time for legal interviews. Advocate Adit S Pujari sought for 30 minutes time twice a week for legal interviews.
However, due to unavailability of Delhi government senior standing counsel (Criminal) Rahul Mehra, the court passed over the matter for the second half.
In the previous hearing, Pujari had told the court that as per information received by him, Jail number 6 in Tihar Jail, where his client is lodged, was under a complete lockdown following incidents of violence against some inmates on June 16.
"The video conferencing facilities were thus not being allowed," Pujari had said adding that Narwal was not subjected to any violence.
Opposing the submissions made by Pujari, Mehra had said that as per the instructions he got from DG Prisons, the reason for non-operation of video conferencing was "connectivity issue".
The arguments came in while the court was hearing a petition filed by Narwal seeking a direction to the Tihar Jail authorities to allow her access to her counsel by way of video conferencing.
In its chargesheet, the Delhi Police have alleged that both Natasha and another Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita were actively involved in hatching the conspiracy to cause riots near Jafrabad Metro Station in Delhi.
"They were also part of a larger conspiracy and were found to be connected to the "India Against Hate" group and Umar Khalid. The message, found in the phone of an accused, on whatsapp chat, reveals the conspiracy and the extent of preparation for causing riots," the statement by the police added..