Dubai: Images of a man’s back branded with the Om symbol went viral online, after a Muslim inmate was subjected to abuse in New Delhi’s Tihar jail.
The inmate, Shabbir alias Nabbir, who according to Indian media reports is an under trial prisoner, was presented in court late last week where he showed the presiding judge the mark seared over his back.
According to Indian news website India Today, Shabbir raised a complaint with the superintendent of jail no. 4 about the induction stove in their barracks not working properly. The accused official, Rajesh Chauhan, then allegedly began to beat Shabbir, accusing him of trying to “be a politician” and raising complaints. In his office, Chauhan and other officials allegedly beat Shabbir and took a metal Om symbol and branded it on Shabbir’s back after heating it.
In his complaint to the Karkardooma court, Shabbir said that he was denied food for two days and on April 14, Chauhan told Shabbir that he had “converted to Hinduism as he had ‘fasted’ during Navratri”, India Today reported.
When Shabbir was presented in court, the judge asked for his statement and also saw the branded symbol on his back. She then called for an enquiry into the matter, including CCTV footage and statements by other inmates. The judge also asked officials to ensure Shabbir’s safety in jail.
The news reports were widely shared on social media, with users shocked by the barbaric act.
Politician and President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen [AIMIM], Asaduddin Owaisi shared the news and wrote: “Everyday, a more innovative way is developed to humiliate us. To brand someone like cattle is cruel, unusual and dehumanising. We’re not chattel, we’re HUMAN. (Let’s not pretend there’s any other reason why Nabbir was branded with this specific symbol).”
Another tweep, @msgoindi59, wrote: “It is not cruel but horrendous and inhuman. Human rights commission must act & so must CJI [Chief Justice of India].”
Other social media users called the act shameful and heinous, asking for strict action to be taken against the accused.
Social media user @rc97858584 tweeted: “Shameful. The guilty should be punished severely under non-bailable National Security Act. This is a heinous crime against humanity.”
Twitter user @NirjhariSinha commented on the impact such actions had on India as a democratic country. She tweeted: “The Death of Democracy and we the silent spectators …”