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Homeless and in a wheelchair at 63

Zolile Ncapayi is 63 and unable to walk. He progressively lost the use of his legs over 30 years ago.

'Committing suicide is easy here'

By Reuters | 2013-03-15 06:54:45.0

NEW DELHI - Authorities are scrambling to address how one of India's most notorious prisoners, sharing a cell with three other inmates in the country's most secure jail, was able to hang himself from an iron grille high above his head without anyone noticing.

At issue is this week's apparent suicide of Ram Singh, the alleged ringleader in a case of gang rape and murder that horrified India last December.

Reuters was unable to ascertain the full details of what went on behind the walls of New Delhi's Tihar Jail and in Singh's cell. But a jail official and one former inmate said it was impossible to keep a constant watch on prisoners in the sprawling and over-crowded facility.

Authorities in Tihar said Singh hanged himself early on Monday morning in his cell. They said he made a noose from the mat he slept on and hanged himself from a grille in the ceiling.

"Committing suicide is very easy there. It's not a big deal at all," the former inmate told Reuters.

A spokesman for the jail, Sunil Gupta, said it was impossible to monitor prisoners tightly enough to prevent suicides.

"It is easy and it's not unusual for suicides to happen in jail," Gupta said inside Tihar.

India was horrified by the crime Singh and five others were accused of - the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus. She and a male companion, who was beaten unconscious, were thrown out of the bus, naked and bleeding after the assault. The student later died of her injuries.

Singh's death is now seen as another failure of the system.

"You could not prevent the rape. You cannot protect people outside, you cannot protect people inside. It indicates absolute failure of the rule of law and also the governance system," said Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights."