New Delhi, March 14: A woman from Bengal lodged in Tihar and facing up to death or a life term in a kidnapping case was found hanging by a dupatta today, days after gang-rape accused Ram Singh’s suspected suicide.
Thirty-year-old Reshma’s death is the fifth alleged suicide in the past 15 months at the prison, touted as one of South Asia’s most secure, but the first by a woman in a decade. It is the second so far this year, including Singh’s on Monday.
Jail officials said they found Reshma, lodged at Tihar since being arrested in 2011, hanging in her cell in jail number 6 around 3pm. Her two cellmates were away in a workshop in another part of the jail when she took the extreme step, the officials added.
Today’s dupatta death raised several questions on security as it came three days after jail officials suggested rape accused Singh had spun a noose from mat strings. But they couldn’t explain how the suspect with a deformed arm could hang from a grille and how his three sleeping inmates didn’t stir.
In earlier suicides, claims had surfaced about everything from bedclothes and pyjama drawstrings to belts and garments being used.
Reshma was accused along with her boyfriend of kidnapping at gun-point a Delhi manpower consultant in September 2011 and demanding a ransom of Rs 10 lakh before police rescued the hostage and arrested the captors.
She faced up to death or life in jail under Section 364-A of the IPC, which relates to cases of abduction for ransom with threat to life, though courts can award a milder punishment. Sources said Reshma was depressed for a long time and spoke little to cellmates.
The reasons for earlier suicides have been many, according to studies on inmates. These included depression, impatience with long drawn-out court proceedings and inability to meet family members.
A 2012 report by Tihar psychiatrists in the Delhi Journal of Psychiatry says most inmates who committed suicide in the past decade were under-trials and young, between 22 and 28 years. All hanged themselves.
Between 2001 and 2011, one suicide took place every year, the number going up to four between 2004 and 2010. Two such incidents occurred last year.
The Tihar deaths represent a stark contrast from the way prisons are managed and inmates looked after in the US and Britain. There, prison officials are trained to spot and prevent suicide attempts by under-trials and provide counselling to those who show such tendencies.
But officials at Tihar say they are stretched, having to handle twice the number of inmates as the jail’s sanctioned capacity of over 6,000.