New Delhi, (The Hindu): Kanhaiya Kumar had been glued to the TV screen since morning inside his solitary prison cell. His "eyes misted over" when the Supreme Court refused to entertain his bail plea, a Tihar official said.
The JNU student leader, arrested on February 12 on sedition charges over an "anti-national" protest on the campus three days earlier, had been "too tense to eat his breakfast this morning", jail sources said.
"He told us he had high hopes after the apex court yesterday agreed to hear his bail plea. He began surfing the news channels from 7am, hours before the hearing was to begin," a prison official said.
"But his eyes misted over when he learnt about the court order early in the afternoon. After staring blankly for a while, he switched the TV off. He looked very downcast."
Delhi High Court is now expected to hear the young man's bail plea on Monday or Tuesday.
After five days in a police lock-up, Kanhaiya had been brutally beaten up by a group of lawyers at the Patiala House Courts complex on February 17, with cops watching silently despite an apex court order to ensure his security.
When he was produced in court shortly afterwards, a magistrate sent him to 14 days' judicial custody.
With Kanhaiya fearing attacks from jail inmates instigated by pro-BJP lawyers, the Tihar authorities have lodged him in a solitary 14ftx10ft cell, where he has a TV set and access to newspapers.
"We cannot take chances after the Patiala House attack," a jail official said.
Kanhaiya sleeps on the floor and is served routine jail food. He has been extremely well behaved throughout, the official said.
"He told us his parents had struggled a lot to send him to school in his Bihar village. He said he had great love for the country but was being framed."
Kanhaiya's father is paralysed and his mother is an Anganwaadi worker.
The National Human Rights Commission today handed a report to the Chief Justice of India saying the February 17 attack on Kanhaiya was "organised and pre-planned" and terming the police's failure to protect him as "dereliction of duty".
Earlier today, a commission team had visited the jail to assess the arrangements for Kanhaiya's safety. The members spoke to the young man for nearly half an hour and recorded his statement.
A copy of the report has been forwarded to Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi, who has to reply by February 26. Highlights of the findings:
• Kanhaiya did not complain of physical assault while in police custody but was subjected to psychological pressure during interrogation.
• The student leader has no complaints against any Tihar official. The jail has deployed dedicated security staff to guard him 24x7 in his solitary cell.
• Kanhaiya was abused and beaten up by some people dressed as lawyers on the Patiala House premises, and even inside the adjoining courtroom. It all happened in front of the police, who did nothing to prevent the assault or arrest the attackers although Kanhaiya had identified them at the time.
• The assault appears to be organised and pre-planned. It was a major security lapse and a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the police.
• The security of Kanhaiya and his family is cause for serious concern.
• Kanhaiya says he was arrested without reason and without being told the grounds of his arrest. He says he has not committed any offence. However, this aspect is under investigation by the police.
Photo credit: The Hindu
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