Nagpur: The Faansi Yard at Nagpur Central prison has once again caught the attention for the wrong reason this time! The bone of contention here is that despite being aquitted from all terror charges, German Bakery blast accused Mirza Himayat Baig is still being kept in Faansi Yard.
Baig’s brother Tariq has alleged that Nagpur central jail authorities are deliberately causing mental torture to his brother by not moving him to another barrack. Tariq has moved HC asking that his brother should be shifted out or moved to another jail since death penalty was quashed; jail admin cites safety concerns.
Mirza Himayat Baig, the lone convict in the 2010 German Bakery blast that rocked Pune, handed the death sentence by a Pune sessions court, was acquitted of all terror charges by the Bombay High Court (HC) just over two months ago. Yet, in an interesting development, it has been revealed by his own brother that the Nagpur jail administration has still been keeping him in the dreaded Faansi Yard, where prisoners are placed before they are hanged.
Asked about the controversy, Nagpur jail superintendent Yogesh Desai said, “It is true that Himayat has been kept in the Faansi Yard, but this it is not deliberate — we are doing so because of the security threat to his life. Since there is no separate cell like the Anda Cell here, we have kept Himayat in the Faansi Yard to avoid any untoward incident from occurring in the jail. It is not true that we don’t allow him to meet anybody. Prisoners have access to meet each other for a few hours during the day.”
Desai also claimed that Himayat, who was earlier held at Yerwada jail, was kept in the high-security Anda Cell there due to a major threat to his life from other prisoners serving a sentence for death penalty and lodged in the Pune jail’s Faansi Yard.
However, sources from Nagpur jail told this media, “In the backdrop of the murder of alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Qateel Siddiqui in Pune in June 2012, the jail administration is taking care of Himayat and giving him ‘special treatment’. He has been separated from other prisoners and still kept in the yard because of this, and is not allowed to meet anybody.”
The barrack in question is dedicated particularly for dreaded convicts — they are not allowed to meet anybody and kept strictly isolated from other prisoners. Now, Himayat’s brother Tariq Baig has complained to the HC, demanding that this humiliation be stopped and that his brother be shifted to the general barracks according to the jail manual. In fact, he has also requested that Himayat be shifted to another jail in Mumbai or Nashik.
The incident allegedly came to light three days ago, when Tariq met his brother Himayat at Nagpur jail.
The latter had been acquitted by the Bombay HC on all five counts of death and four counts of life imprisonment in its March 17 judgment. At the same time, the court had found him guilty of the charge of possession of explosives and confirmed his life imprisonment on that count.
According to the jail manual, only convicts awaiting a death penalty can be kept in the Faansi Yard — keeping any other prisoner there is a violation of human rights.
As many as 17 people were killed and over 50 injured in the German Bakery blast on February 13, 2010. Two months later in April, Baig was awarded the death sentence.
Speaking to a news portal, Tariq said, “My brother is innocent. He has already faced a six-year jail term under the tremendous pressure of the death penalty. Now, even after the court has spared him of capital punishment, he is still being kept in the Faansi Yard. Himayat told me that he is not allowed to leave the zone or even meet anybody, according to the rules of that yard. I have complained to the HC against this ill-treatment. He should immediately be shifted out of the yard and kept with the other prisoners.”
He further alleged, “Our application about transferring Himayat to the Mumbai or Nashik jails is also pending. We also plan to appeal against his life imprisonment with the Supreme Court (SC) — we are confident that he will be discharged soon.”
Himayat is currently facing a life term under Section 5(b) of the Explosive Substances Act.
Senior SC lawyer Mehmood Pracha, who represented Himayat in the HC, said, “This is against the fundamental rights of an individual. He cannot be kept in such a way once the capital punishment charge is quashed. We expect prompt action from the jail administration. We are going to raise this issue in an SC appeal. This reeks of the bias of the authorities towards Baig.”