Did prison officials’ negligence lead to Psycho Shankar’s death? NHRC demands report

The rapist and murderer was found dead in his solitary cell in February, with his throat slit.

Credit: NewIndianExpress

 

The circumstances under which serial killer ‘Psycho’ Shankar died at Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara Central Prison had raised several questions. On Friday, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Inspector General (Prisons), Karnataka, to submit a detailed report regarding the matter within six weeks.

In the wee hours of February 27, Shankar – who was given the moniker ‘Psycho’ by the media – was found in his cell with his throat slit. Prison officials said that they suspected that Shankar had committed suicide using a shaving blade.

Now, the NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports following the serial killer’s death and has questioned the IG as to how Shankar got his hands on a shaving blade to begin with.

The 38-year-old convict was serving a 10-year imprisonment. He was accused in 15 cases of rape and murder, out of which he had been convicted in 3 cases before his death. M Jaishankar, alias Psycho Shankar, had been lodged in an isolated cell after a daring attempt to escape.

Speaking to TNM on condition of anonymity, a prison official said that authorities have launched a probe into how he got hold of the blade.

“Even when the prisoners are in isolation, they have prison duties to perform. Currently, we suspect that he may have got the blade from one of the inmates either while his food was being delivered or when they were performing prison duties. The reason is not yet clear,” the official added.

Sources in the prison told TNM that procuring a blade was not very difficult.

“It has come to light that some of the beat officers make a few inmates run errands for them, like fetching files and such. There is a possibility one of them got their hands on the blade then and may have given it to Shankar. The matter is still under investigation,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the NHRC notice has said that negligence on the part of jail officials is a matter of serious concern.

“The Commission has issued a notice to the IG (Prisons), Karnataka, calling for a detailed report with regard to the matter within six weeks. It has observed that the contents of the news reports, if true, amounts to negligence on the part of the jail officials, which is a matter of serious concern,” a statement issued by NHRC reads.

The Commission’s statement also noted that state authorities had not informed NHRC within 24 hours of the death in judicial custody, as per guidelines. “Therefore, NHRC has sought an explanation from the IG (Prisons), Karnataka, for not adhering to this guideline,” the statement adds.

The prison official added that Psycho Shankar was suffering from depression since he was unable to walk properly after his attempted escape.

“Jaishankar had jumped from a 30ft outer wall and had injured his legs badly. He was in a wheelchair and he had also sustained injuries to his back too. He was put in an isolated cell because he was a threat to other inmates. He was speaking to prison counsellors, but not regularly. Shankar was depressed because he had lost hope of ever getting out of prison, especially since he had hurt his limbs,” the official said.

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