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Lawyer points bribe finger at jail staff

Alipurduar, Dec. 27: The secretary of the Alipurduar Bar Association has accused the staff of the jail here of extracting money from prisoners on various pretexts.

Recently, jail employees were found demanding money to allow inmates to sign on bail bonds, process their release orders on time and even to let them meet visiting relatives, said bar association secretary Surhid Majumdar.

“I discussed the matter with the jail superintendent on Monday and again yesterday. I told him to immediately put a stop to this trend. If no steps are taken then we will lodge a complaint with the additional district judge after January 2 and ask him to take strong action against the jail superintendent,” said Majumdar today.

Last year, the Alipurduar jail was upgraded to a special correctional home, which is equivalent to a district jail.

However, problems have cropped up ever since a new jail superintendent took charge, alleged the bar association secretary. “Even a few months ago, when the previous superintendent was at the helm, the jail was run systematically and according to rules,” he said.

“The employees at the special correctional home are not allowing relatives and friends to meet prisoners unless they pay them. They are even demanding anything between Rs 100 and Rs 500 to allow prisoners to put their signatures on bail bonds, without which the documents are useless,” said Majumdar.

The bar association secretary said two incidents of this sort had been reported this week itself.

“On Monday, the family members of Basir Ansari and Tamon Sharma of Samuktala, both accused in a kidnapping case, went to the jail with their bail bonds but the on-duty employees demanded money from them,” Majumdar said. Left with little choice, each family paid Rs 100.

“Yesterday, the release orders of Anup Lama and Samir Pal arrived in the jail in the morning, but the employees held them back and forced the two inmates to cough up Rs 200 each. They were finally released in the evening and that too after their advocate, Basudeb Das, intervened.”

The superintendent of Alipurduar Special Correctional Home, Bidyut Dutta, denied all the allegations. “I have received no such complaints from the prisoners or their families. Even the secretary of the bar association never contacted me,” said Dutta.

“If we complain, our loved ones in jail will suffer,” the relative of an inmate said on condition of anonymity.

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