He managed to dodge all eyes on him—the guard posted to keep a “suicide watch” on him and three inmates in the high-security cell in Tihar Jail here—to end his life using the clothes he was wearing.
The suicide of 33-year-old Ram Singh, the prime accused in the December 16 Delhi gangrape case, has raised questions about the role of authorities involved in keeping a watch on him and other prisoners.
Singh was not alone in the cell in Jail Number three of the prisons when he used his clothes to hang himself from the grill early this morning, jail sources said.
A guard was posted outside his cell to keep a watch on him but could not detect the happenings inside the cell. Three inmates, who were sleeping, also did not know that Singh was hanging himself, they said.
“The guard, a personnel from Tamil Nadu Police, noticed Singh hanging from the grill at 5:45 a.m.,” they said.
Officials said it was not clear how he managed to tie the rope he made using his clothes to the grill that was at least eight feet high. They also could not explain how the other three prisoners failed to detect anything untoward.
Sources said a Metropolitan Magistrate will inquire into the incident.
Singh’s family and lawyers alleged he was murdered inside jail.
Singh and other four accused in the case were also under suicide watch—an alert that the inmates could take extreme step—since January after they stopped interacting with other inmates.
Mamata Sharma, National Women’s Commission Chairperson, raised questions about the functioning of Tihar Jail, saying it was “shocking” that the administration could not protect the undertrial and demanded an inquiry. “The question mark is on Tihar,” she said.
Kiran Bedi, former Tihar Director General, said said only an inquiry will tell under what special watch was he and what happened to that watch. “How did this man give this watch a slip? I think we need to wait for the inquiry,” she said.
“Where a prison inmate loses hope and knows he has no chance of getting away he does look for opportunities to take his own life inside jail. The enquiry ordered will reveal what kind of e-watch or h-watch (human watch) he was under,” she said.
She noted that the case was widely reported and the accused were facing social boycott within and outside jail.
“Here is a person who is in a small cell and would probably be living as long as the watch remains. So the moment he can give a slip to that watch, he had the chance to escape the gallows.
“So I think that is what he has done. Such cases are very vulnerable for the prison and very challenging. It is a very heavy responsibility for the prison to keep a very alert and sharp electronic eye and a physical eye and a personal eye,” she said.
The news of his death immediately triggered demands from his lawyers and family for a CBI probe. They alleged that he was murdered inside the jail and refused to believe that he could have committed suicide.
Forensic experts have visited the jail premises to collect samples. Singh was under depression for the past couple of days and last evening, he did not even have food, jail sources said, a claim contested by his lawyers.
Prone to violent behaviour and mood swings, he had suicidal tendencies and was under “suicide watch'', he said.
Singh, who was to be produced before court for its daily hearing, was rushed to the jail hospital where he was declared brought dead. His body will be taken to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital for post-mortem.
“There is already an inquiry which has been ordered by Tihar Jail on suicide of the main accused. We are enquiring into the matter,” R.P.N. Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs, said.
The girl was raped in the bus by Ram Singh and his five associates, including a minor, in South Delhi after brutally beating her and also her male friend. The girl died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.
Singh, who was arrested a day after the incident, was the driver of the bus in which the girl was raped. His brother Mukesh was driving the bus.