The state government has asked the district magistrates (DMs) and superintendents of police (SPs) of Naxalite-hit districts to provide video-conferencing facilities in jails to foil attempts by rebels to set free their incarcerated leaders and cadres.
The facility would enable rebel prisoners or undertrials to appear before the judges from the prison itself without compromising on security.
In a directive issued to the DMs, SPs and the jail SPs in February, the government said rebels were attacking prisoner vans to liberate their associates.
Sources said at present, the video-conferencing facility was available in 30 of 58 state jails. The Beur jail in Patna has started availing the facility and 90-100 undertrials appear before respective courts everyday through web cameras on an average.
The state government’s new directive came in the wake of a recent letter of Union home secretary R.K. Singh to chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha asking the latter to take all precautionary measures to avoid attacks on prisoner vans by rebels to set their undertrial associates free. The letter, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, said the Naxalites attacked a prisoners’ van in Giridih district of Jharkhand in November last year to free six cadres after killing three policemen and an undertrial. “Such incidents demoralise the entire (police) force. Hence urgent corrective steps need to be put in place to prevent recurrence of similar incidents,” the letter said, adding that the governments of Maoist-affected states should undertake security audit in jails where Naxalite activists are lodged.
The Union home secretary said every SP should prepare a list of Naxalites lodged in different jails under his/her jurisdiction. The official can then request the district judge, in the interest of security, to conduct judicial remand extension proceedings of all rebel prisoners through video-conferencing from the prison itself.
Singh’s letter stated that the SP could also request the district judge to exempt the undertrial Maoists from personal appearance on security grounds while allowing their lawyers to represent them during the trial proceedings.