Karandih-Ghaghidih Road. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
A central jail on the eastern fringe of Jamshedpur wants a road that runs along a significant part of its boundary sealed during nights, fearing Naxalite attacks.
Anil Kumar Rai, the superintendent in-charge of the Ghaghidih Central Jail, has decided to ask East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal to keep
the Karandih-Ghaghidih Road closed between 8pm and 5am as a security measure.
“We have decided to request the district administration to keep the Karandih-Ghaghidih Road closed during night as there are very few security guards posted at the central jail. Moreover, none of the guards is trained to cope with guerrilla attacks, should there be one on the jail,” Rai said.
The Karandih-Ghaghidih Road is about a kilometre long. It connects the Tata-Chaibasa state highway with that of Ghaghidih, a densely populated slum. The Ghaghidih Central Jail is at the mid-point.
Nearby landmarks are the government-run Lal Bahadur Shashtri Memorial College and a correction home opposite the prison.
The 15-feet-wide metalled road, a lifeline for local residents, remains busy throughout the day. A bypass connects the Karandih-Ghaghidih Road to Jugsalai, a commercial hub of the steel city.
A night shutdown proposal is unlikely to find support among local residents. Gabriel Marandi, who runs a shop on the Karandih road, said any curbs on movement would inconvenience them.
“About 25,000 people reside in Ghaghidih. People use this road during the day and night. Closing the road during night will make it difficult for those who return home from work,” he said.
Over 1,200 inmates are lodged in the jail. Of them, 37 are being tried for their alleged involvement in Naxalite violence. At least 10 of them are said to be hardcore rebels.
Rai’s apprehensions stem from intelligence reports that do not rule out Maoist attacks on the prison from outside to free their comrades. “But if the closure of the Karandih-Ghaghidih Road at night is not possible, the district administration should post policemen to frisk every individual who uses the stretch after 8pm every day,” said the jail superintendent who is also East Singhbhum district special officer (rationing).
Sources revealed that the jail authorities were also alive to the possibility of a jailbreak, the kind that occurred at Chaibasa and Seraikela divisional jails in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Rai said although the Ghaghidih jail was spread over 15 acre, there were very few security guards posted. “There are only 90 security guards posted now. The minimum required for guarding the jail is 150,” he said.
The jail superintendent suggested that check-posts be set up along the jail during nights. “In case of any untoward incident, the police personnel on the road can them alert the jail guards,” he said, but added that the closure of the Karandih-Ghaghidih Road during nights was the best option.