The Telegraph e-Paper
The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cellphone surrender hit with jail inmates

Patna, Nov. 30: The prison department has decided to use cordiality rather than coercion to make jail inmates surrender their cellphones to the authorities.

The department has recently launched a voluntary surrender scheme for prisoners in Beur Central Jail, Patna, to deposit cellphones smuggled into the prisons to the authorities. As part of the scheme, the prisoners who would surrender their mobiles voluntarily would not only get a pat from the jail authorities, but would also evade punitive action.

Sources said the scheme has received a warm reception not only from the prison officials but also the inmates, many of whom have found it to be a perfect opportunity to place themselves in the good books of the authorities.

“The scheme has started paying dividends. The prisoners have surrendered more than 24 cellphones so far,” said Beur jail superintendent S. Priyadarshi. Half-a-dozen of these were deposited on the first day.

He added that such a scheme has been designed to give the prisoners a chance to mend their ways. “I have told the inmates that if you don’t surrender your mobile phones, we will seize them,” he said.

Explaining the benefits the prisoners can reap from the scheme, Priyadarshi said: “No FIR is lodged against the prisoners who surrender their cellphones under the scheme. However, if a prisoner is found with a cellphone in his possession, a case is registered against him.”

A senior prison department officer said the scheme would be implemented in other jails of the state soon. “At present, we are closely monitoring the response to the scheme,” he said.

The officer added that intensive raids were conducted in jails across the state to keep the inmates aloof from the outside world.

A search in Beur Central Jail last week led to the seizure of about 50 cellphones and SIM cards. During a search on Tuesday, the jail officials recovered four more cellphones and a few SIM cards. “The mobiles were hidden on the terrace of the buildings to hoodwink the security personnel,” an official said.

Over 150 cellphones have been seized from 54 jails of the state in the past 11 months. Sources said the mobiles are hidden in toilets and kitchens during the search carried out by the police. A senior officer said some of them even hide it with jail employees.