M A I N   N E W S

Probe begins into branding of accused
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Punjab's Prisons Department has initiated probe into the branding of an accused in a theft case. In less than 24 hours after the case was foregrounded, Inspector-General of Punjab Police (IGP) S.K. Dutta in charge of the prisons in the state today reached Amritsar to look into the matter.

The sources in the Prisons Department asserted that the IGP, in an attempt to verify the authenticity of the allegations levelled by the victim, was going through the statements of inmates and other alleged witnesses in the case. The jail staff was also being questioned.

The sources added that the IGP would also verify if the victim Rockey was branded at the behest of some senior jail officers. The immediate provocation that led to the incident would also be looked into.

They added that it was "too premature to comment on the incident". But the IGP was likely to complete the probe by Sunday and submit his report, along with suggestions for streamlining the functioning of jails, to the minister concerned or the government on Monday. IG Dutta was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

Rockey an under trial in a theft case had alleged that he was branded "Yeh chor hai" on his back by the Deputy Superintendent of Amritsar's Central Jail, along with other prison officials. Rockey had added that his demand for supply of water and other facilities, in accordance with the jail manual, had infuriated the staff resulting into the incident.

After appearing before Amritsar's Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Rockey had on Friday taken off his shirt to show the scars in an attempt to substantiate the allegations.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the CJM had ordered medical examination of the victim, besides directing probe into the incident. The doctors, after examining the victim, had confirmed that the scars were fresh and were inflicted with hot iron rods.

This was the second incident of its kind in the state. Way back in 1995, "jebkatris" was branded on the foreheads of some Sangrur district residents. The victims had to undergo plastic surgery for the removal of the stigma. The expenses incurred were borne by the police department and the state government. 

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