Angela booked for ‘obstructing’ jail authorities

NAGPUR: City police has registered an offence at Dhantoli police station against Angela Sontakke for obstructing the jail officials in their official duty and creating unrest in the prison. The latest development added drama to the controversy which kicked off after Angela’s lawyers had made a claim of her being assaulted by the Nagpur jail authorities on October 17 for protesting against not producing her before the court on two occasions.

Angela, secretary of Western Maharashtra State Rajya Committee and member of the Maharashtra state Rajya committee (MSRC) of banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), was arrested along with others in April by the state Anti-Terrorist Squad for alleged association with the Naxal movement. She is the wife of Milind Teltumbde, secretary of MSRC, who is now underground.

Angela’s lawyer Surendra Gadling had recently alleged that Nagpur central jail authorities have assaulted her for demanding to be taken to court for hearing.

In an e-mail to TOI, one of Angela’s close associates from Mumbai claimed that the Nagpur jail authorities did not allow Angela to attend court on two occasions on the pretext of not having security escorts.

Angela, lodged in the women jail at Byculla in Mumbai, was brought to Nagpur on October 11 to be produced before a city court. She was retained in Nagpur for a day. She was to appear before the court on October 14 too, but police didn’t produce her on that date. On the following day, Angela was supposed to be produced before the Sewri sessions court in Mumbai, but she was not taken there from the Nagpur central jail. Later on October 17, Angela had a date before the Kurkheda court at Gadchiroli. She was not taken to court on this day too.

Angela, protesting against the non-production before the court, refused to be locked up in the barrack and also sought an explanation from the jail authorities. Angela was learnt to be forcibly locked up and thrashed by the jail staffers.

Angela’s lawyer Surendra Gadling said that the prosecution seems to be conspiring against his client fearing a speedy trial may get her acquitted. “There are a number of acquittals in different cases which seem to have unnerved the security forces who are undertaking measures like not producing the under-trials before the court. Angela was beaten and no medical examination was done to ascertain the injuries,” he said. Angela had observed a hunger-strike in protest, which was joined by other inmates too. “We would complain against the jail authorities before the court,” said Gadling.

The jail authorities clarified that they had to undertake tough measures against her for disobeying the rules. Deputy inspector general of police, prison, eastern region, Bipin Behari, said that Angela had created a ruckus and assaulted the jail officials. “I had suggested legal action against her for violating the norms of the jail manuals and obstructing the personnel,” he said.

Jail superintendent of Nagpur central jail VV Sekdar said that Angela could not be sent to the court as there was no security escorts available for her.

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