Leki shows his OPD papers

Former inmate of Lungzur jail alleges abuse in prison

A RBP team from the headquarters is investigating the issue

A former inmate of Lungzor prison in Trashigang has alleged being beaten by police duty personnel for no specific reason while serving his two-year term in the district jail.

Leki Dorji, 19, from Samkhar, Trashigang, alleged that police personnel beat him in June, and earlier in March 2017 he was stabbed by one of the inmates after a dispute amongst themselves.

He had been convicted for battery on 22 September 2015 and was released on 22 September 2017.

Soon after completing his jail term, Leki Dorji lodged a complaint at the RBP Headquarter in Thimphu.

Leki Dorji is uneducated and has worked at construction sites. He was charged for battery when a fight broke out between him and his uncle (father’s brother).

Leki Dorji has alleged that police personnel misuse their power with inmates. “They make prisoners do gardening, electrification, collecting firewood etc. They take us outside the jail boundary and when some of the inmates are caught returning with some Marijuana leaves they beat everyone in jail,” he said.

He also said that police on duty ask them to make tea and lunch and in return they give them chewing tobacco (Baba). “They keep beating us for the smallest of reasons,” he alleged.

Leki Dorji alleged that in March this year some inmates were taken outside the jail to collect firewood. “One of the inmates was asked to prepare food. He had drunk some alcohol and he entered a shop asking for matchstick,” Leki Dorji said.

“For some reason he got angry and became wild and the police on duty could not control him. They called me to help and when I was halfway there a group of inmates surrounded me and questioned if I am helping police. I said no and during the course of argument one of the inmates stabbed me from behind,” he said.

Leki Dorji said that whatever he said and did was in the presence of police personnel. “I was evacuated to hospital where I got some stitches and was discharged after a night, but I still have the marks and it gives me frequent pain,” he said.

After returning to jail, Leki Dorji said that he requested few personnel about putting up a letter seeking justice but no one listened to him. “What I wonder is from where did an inmate get a knife to stab me,” he said.

Then in June, Leki Dorji alleged that a group of police personnel battered him with no reason. “On that day I was prostrating and I went to see what time it was when I saw few duty personnel beating some inmates. One police duty came to me and asked me to leave and on my way I met our captain who asked me what was going on,” Leki Dorji said.

“When explaining to the captain the duty, who asked me to leave assumed I was talking about him. Then he called me out and started beating me up, and he was joined by a group of other duty personnel,” he said.

He said that while he accepts that he did not allow them to handcuff him and pushed them to save himself they managed to handcuff him and tied him up.

Leki Dorji said that all prisoners in Lungzor jail are from poor family backgrounds and he feels that is why they are treated badly.

Leki showed the reporter two medical documents to prove what his body had gone through.

A police source from the prison who did not want to be identified fearing the breaking of protocol norms of talking to the media said that Leki Dorji was notorious and stubborn and would not listen to anyone. He said that Leki Dorji was the strongest among the inmates, which is why he used force most of the time and interfered in every fight amongst inmates.

On the stabbing incident the police source said some inmates were asked to help in collecting firewood. “On that day one prisoner got drunk when he went to a duty’s house to drink water but mistakenly drank Serkim Chang stored in a bottle,” the source said. “While returning he asked for a match stick from the canteen and since they refused to give him, he got wild.”

The source confirmed that they had asked Leki Dorji to help to hold the inmate who was drunk and wild. But since he did not let Leki Dorji touch him, they sent Leki Dorji and the other inmates inside the prison.

“We interrogated the drunk inmate in the space between outer and inner prison gates. Meanwhile, after 30 minutes, another fight broke out amongst the inmates inside,” the source said. “During the fight, Leki Dorji had beaten an inmate who went to the kitchen and got a knife and stabbed him from behind. However, we don’t know who was at fault and why the fight started.”

On Leki Dorji’s allegations of being beaten by a group of police the source said that during the time of incident Leki Dorji tried to strangle two police personnel. “That day, the inmates were quarreling amongst themselves and when a duty tried to control them, Leki Dorji punched one police twice. In past also Leki Dorji has beaten or battered police personnel in the cell,” the source said.

Officials from headquarters declined to comment on the issue. However, it was learned from the source that an inquiry team was sent to Lungzor jail to investigate the allegations.

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