Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), condemns the assault on three women under-trials, Angela Sontakey, 42, Sushma Ramteke, 22, and Jyoti Chorghe,19, in the Mumbai District Women’s Prison in Byculla.
On March 31 they witnessed an assault upon some other inmates by the prison staff. When they tried to intervene, they too were attacked by the staff. The jail authorities responded to their subsequent demand for an apology by sending them into solitary confinement, without any medical assistance before or after the confinement.
In addition to the assault, the women have complained that there have been attempts to block their access to books, and to classes held in the prison by non-government groups. Their books that included Mahatma Gandhi’s biography and a pamphlet on prison rights have been confiscated, in complete violation of their basic rights as under-trials. They claim that they are being targeted as they have consistently raised their voice against practices of corruption rampant in the jail, and on various problems faced by the prisoners including access to nutritional food. They have also referred to an atmosphere of fear and terror of jail authorities among the prisoners. A complaint has been filed by their lawyers demanding action against the staff responsible for the assault, and to look into their demand for wholesome food for all prisoners.
We at WSS believe that issues of custodial treatment are of the utmost importance and that prison authorities must not abuse the power they have over prisoners.
Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe completed one year in jail on May 16th. In response to their consistent agitation for the rights of the inmates of the Women’s Prison we at WSS demand
- A thorough investigation, and suitable punishment of those found guilty, in the incidents of assault upon all the women prisoners, including Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe, housed in the Mumbai District Women’s Prison in Byculla.
- An investigation of the issues raised by these women such as the routine corruption in prison administration as well as the demands of bribes for access to resources and medical treatment.
- Provision of healthy, hygienic and nutritious food, apart from other basic amenities, to all women prisoners, as stipulated by law.
- Immediate halt to the use of ‘Solitary confinement’ – a provision in the jail manual meant to be used to punish or control errant prisoners – as a method of punishing under-trials or prisoners demanding their basic and legitimate rights.