HC questions Tihar jail officials over failure to prevent killing of gangster Tillu Tajpuria

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked Tihar jail authorities some searching questions about how dreaded gangster Tillu Tajpuria was killed in a knife attack by a rival gang inside the high-security prison while security staff watched the incident, captured on CCTV cameras, live.

It questioned the prison authorities about the delay in responding to the brutal attack.

The high court asked why the security personnel deployed in the jail premises do not have walkie talkies for communication and termed it as unacceptable.

“What bothers me is that it is watched on CCTV cameras. How can the police take so much of time that it cannot be stopped while the incident is happening,” Justice Jasmeet Singh said and asked the counsel for the state as to what is the distance between the jail and surveillance area.

“It shakes my judicial conscience!” the judge said.

“It shakes everybody’s conscience, it does shake and we are taking positive steps,” responded the counsel.

The high court was hearing a petition filed by Tajpuriya’s father and brother seeking a CBI investigation into the “brutal murder” inside the Tihar Jail premises on May 2.

Additional Standing Counsel Rahul Tyagi, representing the state, said the surveillance area is 600 metres away from the jail and told the court that inmates involved in the incident have been arrested for Tajpuria’s murder.

“I am assuring you that if someone from outside was involved, action will also be taken against them,” he said.

“They don’t have walkie talkies? Why? What is the point? So every time an incident happens, the person from surveillance goes to the jail which is 600 metres away,” the jugde asked the government lawyer.

Tyagi said it is against the jail manual to carry weapons inside and now the authorities are exploring the possibility of arming them.

“I know this is a brutal incident but our reaction should not be immediate. Let us take a cool and calculated decision Hard cases make bad laws. It should not get a knee jerk reaction,” the state’s counsel submitted.

Unconvinced, the court asked why the authorities have to wait for any such incident to happen to take action and said the reaction has to be commensurate with the offence.

“Why do we have to wait for an incident to happen and then we say that hard cases make bad laws and knee jerk reactions? How is it fair? Think about it from a rational person’s point of view. You have a prison which is 600 metres away from your surveillance (area). The idea of surveillance is to see the movement of the prisoners, that these kinds of incidents don’t take place.

“So, the moment the incident is taking place, at best the officer will run. How will he call up? He does not have a walkie talkie. It is unacceptable,” the judge said.

The state’s counsel said the authorities were taking it as an opportunity to improve things and change the system.

The jail superintendent concerned was also present in the courtroom during the proceedings.

“It is a high security prison, you are aware. Look at the recovery that you have made from surprise checks. Does it not show the potential of huge threats,” it said.

The state’s counsel said the improvised knives recovered from inmates were crafted from material like fans inside the jail and nothing came from outside.

Advocate Ajay Kumar Pipaniya, appearing for the petitioners, said as Tajpuriya apprehended threat to his life, applications were filed before a trial court and orders were passed.

“He apprehended a threat to his life and judicial order was passed to take care of his safety and then such an incident happened. This is not acceptable,” Justice Singh said.

The high court had earlier questioned the jail authorities over recovery of four knives from the premises where Tajpuriya was stabbed to death and termed it as “unacceptable state of affairs”.

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The judge had watched the video in the court and said it was seen that Tajpuriya was dragged out of his cell and stabbed to death.

A CCTV video which emerged on social media purportedly showed Tajpuriya being attacked in front of security personnel and also when they were carrying him away after he was stabbed. The personnel did nothing when a dying Tajpuria was repeatedly stabbed while he was being carried away.

Tajpuriya was assaulted with improvised weapons allegedly by four members of the Jitendar Gogi gang inside the high-security prison. Gogi was shot dead at Rohini court, allegedly at Tajpuria’s command, in 2021. The bloody feud for supremacy between the two gangs has been going on for the last many years and has claimed several lives.

According to jail officials, seven personnel of the Tamil Nadu Special Police (TNSP), who were on duty when Tajpuriya was stabbed to death, have been suspended following the incident.

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