The two inmates found hanging in the Sultanpur district jail in June this year appear to have been murdered, a judicial inquiry into the deaths has concluded in its report, it is learnt.
Holding the prison staff directly responsible for the incident, the Sultanpur Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), who conducted the inquiry, said in the report that it was likely a case of “forceful hanging”.
Manoj Raidas, alias Manju (21) and his cousin Vijay Pasi, alias Kariya (19), both undertrials from Amethi district, were found hanging from a tree in the prison complex on June 21, a few weeks after being lodged in the jail in a murder case.
The prison officials had initially claimed that the two, who belonged to the Dalit community, committed suicide due to “depression”. The probe report, which has not yet been made public, also found that the deaths took under suspicious circumstances and it was not established that the inmates were under depression.
Also, the jail authorities told the inquiry officer that the CCTV cameras installed near the spot of alleged suicides were not functional. The viscera reports of undertrials were not provided to the inquiry officer either, it was claimed.
The statements of nearly 20 witnesses, including jail staff, inmates, victims’ family members, and a doctor, were recorded during the probe, officials said.
The report has also raised question marks over different timings of the deaths of the two inmates and on the injury marks found on Vijay’s body and the turning of his nail colour into blue, hinting at the possibility of the two undertrials being poisoned.
Though Sultanpur District Magistrate Krittika Jyotsna confirmed having received the inquiry report she refused to share its contents. “I have received the copy and action will be taken accordingly.”
Manoj Raidas and Vijay Pasi were arrested in the murder case of their 48-year-old neighbour, Om Prakash, who was killed in his sleep outside his house on May 26.
The police said the two during their interrogation confessed to have killed Om Prakash as they mistook him for his brother Jitendra who had thrashed them a few days before during a brawl.
When contacted, the then Sultanpur Jail Superintendent Umesh Singh said after the bodies of the two inmates were found hanging he immediately informed his senior officials who also visited the spot. A forensic team and a dog squad were also called to the spot and nothing unusual was found, he added.
“No deep injuries were found on the inmates’ bodies and it was clear that the deaths occurred due to hanging. Also, nothing unusual was found in a probe by the District Magistrate,” said Singh, who is now posted in Varanasi.