Ram Kumar’s Suicide Raises Many Questions

CHENNAI:  Latest suicide of an accused in Chennai central prison once again raises many questions about the safety of inmates in our jails. P. Ram Kumar, an engineering graduate is accused of killing 24 year old Swathi an IT professional in June this year, allegedly committed suicide on Sunday by touching a live electric wire.

However, there is no explanation from the jail authorities as to why Ram Kumar was taken to a hospital that is an hour away from the jail. His lawyer suspecting a foul play said, “It is a murder in Jail. Nowhere in a jail would there be a power supply strong enough to kill a person. We would ask for an open postmortem.” According to him he met Ram Kumar only on previous day, and found no suicidal tendency in him. But the veracity of this statement will be questioned on the ground that on July 3 Ram Kumar has attempted to kill himself by slashing his neck when police were about to arrest him.

Ram Kumar’s alleged murder is only a latest example of its kind where the extreme act of violence on a girl who rejected one’s advances. When Swathi was found murdered at Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai, Police arrested Ram Kumar with the help of CCTV cameras.

It is a known fact that suicides, or alleged suicides are prevalent in our jails. As latest as on Sep 15th this year a 41 year old Senthil Kumar who is in judicial custody in connection with 2 motorcycle theft cases attempted suicide in Coimbatore Central jail in Tamil Nadu.

Tihar jail in Delhi stood first in this happenings. In March this year Ram Singh an accused in Nirbhaya’s gang rape and murder case in the national capital, found dead in his cell in Tihar jail. According to the jail authorities he hanged himself with his clothes. One wonders how such an incident can happen in a high-security jail. This clearly shows the inability and callousness of our jail authorities in securing the prisoners. A 2012 report says that in Tihar jail as many as 20 inmates were allegedly committed suicide between 2001 and April 2012.

 There is no dearth of studies, reports and recommendations on the problem. They reveal and discuss how the inmates undergo several psychological as well as physical stresses that drive them to the extreme act of killing themselves. Even World Health Organization (WHO) took up the issue extensively and made several suggestions to ensure the security to the lives of inmates. It has pointed out various lapses not only in treating the prisoners but also in the training that is given to the jail staff.

But who is listening? Ram Kumar’s incident raises the question once again.

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