Jailed journalist's spouse alleges his mistreatment in prison

Singh is known for his extensive reporting in the tribal areas of Jharkhand.

Credit : Indie Journal


Ipsa Shatakshi, spouse of the jailed Jharkhand journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh, has alleged that Singh has been threatened by a cell incharge in the Shahid Jubba Sahni Central Jail in Bhagalpur, Bihar, where he is currently incarcerated. While Singh has requested to meet the Jail Superintendent or other senior officials in the jail to raise his concerns about the same, he has been met with no response from the officials, Shatakshi says. When Indie Journal contacted the Jail Superintendent about the same, he brushed off and denied the allegations.

“During my visit to Rupesh at the Bhagalpur jail on April 11, he told me that he had been ‘threatened to be beaten’ by his Cell Incharge Murari Kumar Singh. However, the jail administration has not taken any action against the Cell Incharge for this behaviour. When Rupesh tried to meet the jailer and the superintendent to file a complaint about this, he did not get any response. As of today, no one has talked to him about the incident,” Shatakshi told Indie Journal on Sunday.

Jail Superintendent Yusuf Rizwan, when asked about the same, denied the allegations. “Who will threaten someone inside a prison? How will the jail incharge threaten a prisoner?” he said.

He also said that if Singh wanted to meet him or another official, he could just come and meet them any time.

Shatakshi has written a letter to IG Prison, demanding action against the prison employee and raising concerns about Singh's safety and well-being.


Shatakshi's letter to IG Prison


Singh, known for his extensive reporting in the tribal areas of Jharkhand over the issues faced by the locals, was arrested by the Jharkhand Police on July 19, 2022, in connection with a 2021 case, wherein the police said that he allegedly helped arrange funds for the Maoists under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Last year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a supplementary chargesheet against Singh in connection with an alleged case related to Naxal activities in Bihar under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and UAPA in a Special Court. While he was earlier lodged into the Adarsh Central Jail in Beur, Patna, around three months ago, on January 23, he was transferred to the Shahid Jubba Sahni Central Jail in Bhagalpur. That is when the problems began, Shatakshi said.

“The NIA transferred Rupesh to the Bhagalpur jail all of a sudden. We never got any clarity as to why he was transferred. I have even filed an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act demanding answers, but I have not received any answers yet. The conditions at the Bhagalpur jail are bad,” she added.

She further said, "I worry about him. Earlier, we could at least have regular calls, video calls with Rupesh. It has become challenging to get in touch with him now. He is not available at the designated time. When he is, we can barely talk for five minutes."

Responding to this allegation, which Shatakshi has also mentioned in her letter, Rizwan said that every prisoner gets to meet his family members fortnightly. "We cannot make exceptions for anyone. We also have to follow the rules strictly, especially since Lok Sabha elections are also about to start. We let everyone meet their family, as per the rules," he insisted.



Shatakshi also said that Singh had been facing health issues, which have not been addressed properly by the jail administration.

“Rupesh said that he has been having issues with his eyesight for a while now. The doctors in the jail have referred him to the Mayaganj Hospital for further checkup, but he has not yet been taken there. We fear that his issues might intensify due to this negligence,” Shatakshi said.

Further she alleged that Singh informed her that the food served at this jail is of sub-par quality and not as dictated by the prison manual.

“The vegetables served are repetitive, the prisoners are made to eat the same vegetable throughout the week sometimes. Meat is not served, any source of protein for the prisoners is sparse. Rupesh said that the drinking water also seems contaminated, as a layer of oil often forms over it when stored overnight,” she said.

Singh is one of the many journalists who were arrested in the country over the past decade under the draconian UAPA and other stringent sections of the IPC. As of today, when India is less than a week away from beginning the general elections, seven journalists remain incarcerated across the country, over ambiguous charges, as per the Centre for Protection of Journalists (CPJ). Four of them have been booked under the UAPA.