Twenty-seven year old Qateel Siddiqi, arrested in November 2011 by the Special Cell for his alleged IM links, has been killed in Yerwada Central jail in Pune today. The murder has ostensibly been carried out fellow inmates for unknown reasons. Qateel had been shifted to Yerwada only a few days ago after the Maharashtra ATS had taken his custody for a test identification parade.

Qateel’s killing raises several important questions:

—Siddiqi was kept in high security anda jail and not in the common barracks. How then did the attack take place?

—Could the attack have taken place without the complicity, even if passive, of the Yerwada jail authorities?

—Given the claim of the investigating agencies that Qateel was the key to unraveling the IM network, what happens now to those investigations?

—The fact that Siddiqi was to be moved out of the Yerwada Jail and was eliminated just before that smacks of a conspiracy.

While custodial violence is endemic and almost institutionalized, Maharashtra Jails are also notorious for attacks on accused, particularly on those accused of terrorism. The brutal violence unleashed on the Mumbai train blasts accused in the Arthur Road jail three years ago, at the behest of the jail authorities, comes immediately to mind. It is obvious that undertrials, especially those charged with crimes like terrorism, are not safe in Maharashtra jails.

All accused in judicial custody are directly under the care of the judiciary and as such it is the judiciary’s responsibility to ensure their well-being and safety. We hope therefore that the Mumbai High Court will take suo moto notice of this killing and initiate action in the matter.

We demand that:
1) An FIR under section 302 be filed immediately for the Killing of Qateel Siddiqi
2) Compensation should be granted to the wife of Qateel Siddiqi for his killing in judicial custody
3) An impartial enquiry should be constituted to investigate into the killing.

Further, the dead body of Qateel Siddiqi must be transported for his burial to his hometown at the cost of the Maharashtra State, given also that the family is too poor to bear the expenses.

Sd/-

Manisha Sethi, Sanghamitra Misra, Ahmed Sohaib, Adeel Mehdi, Tanweer Fazal (for JTSA)

Shabnam Hashmi and Bhawna Sharma (for ANHAD)

Colin Gonsalves, Harsh Dobhal and Mahtab Alam (for HRLN)

8th June 2012