Eyewitnesses say Allahabad lawyer was assaulted

May 15th, 2008 - 11:37 pm ICT by admin  

Allahabad, May 15 (IANS) Two prisoners here asserted Thursday that they saw jail authorities beat up Allahabad High Court lawyer S.K. Awasthi, who died in police custody Tuesday. Accompanied by their advocate K.K. Mishra on the district court premises, two witnesses Rakesh Kumar Tiwari and Shiv Prasad told IANS that jail personnel along with a jail mate thrashed Awasthi April 28 till he fainted.

“This happened in the presence of other jail inmates,” Tiwari said. The two inmates, who belong to Bara tehsil of Allahabad district, are serving sentences for drug peddling and rioting and are out on bail.

“He was beaten up black and blue because he protested against the poor quality of food provided to him by the jail staff,” Tiwari said.

Their lawyer said the two would state this on an affidavit in the court Friday.

They said they wished to reveal the truth as they were moved to learn about Awasthi’s death - especially as he had been illtreated in front of them.

Awasthi, who was slapped a month-long imprisonment in a contempt of court case by the Allahabad High Court April 22, died at the S.R.N. Hospital Tuesday while in police custody.

His post-mortem report revealed seven injury marks, including on his head. He was hospitalized May 6 with acute psychosis and it gradually led to renal failure.

The lawyer’s parents have alleged that he was tortured in jail and chained to the bed by the police in the hospital.

The hospital’s chief medical superintendent U.S. Sinha told IANS he wrote to the district magistrate and inspector general of police (prisons) May 8 apprising them of the callous attitude of jail staff towards inmates who were hospitalized.

“Despite my repeated requests, the jail staff remained negligent in providing support to us in the treatment of inmates admitted to our hospital,” Sinha asserted.

The lawyers in Allahabad and several other cities in Uttar Pradesh have been agitating after the death of Awasthi and holding demonstrations. They have demanded transfer of Justice B.S. Chauhan of the high court, who had slapped one-month jail on the lawyer for his court’s contempt.

Awasthi had accused the judge in the court of favouritism towards a section of the lawyers and being unjust to others.

The Allahabad High Court Bar Association (HCBA) in a resolution decided to continue their agitation.

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