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Minister plans Sajiwa revamp
- Gaikhangam inspects security inside prison

Imphal, May 2: The notorious Shajiwa Jail, from where some inmates allegedly run extortion networks with the help of mobile phones, will be a thing of the past with new home minister Gaikhangam determined to stop such illegal activities.

To send the message across, the home minister yesterday visited the jail in Khabeisoi in Imphal East about 5km from the city and inspected the security scenario and condition inside the jail complex, including healthcare and other facilities for inmates.

“We have decided to revamp the jail administration. To check criminal activities by inmates, we will be installing cell phone signal jammers and closed-circuit television cameras in Shajiwa Jail,” Gaikhangam said after the visit. He said several vacant posts in the jail department would be filled up very soon to strengthen and streamline the jail administration.

Gaikhangam is the first home minister to visit the jail in more than two decades. The Shajiwa Jail has gained notoriety after reports surfaced of some inmates running extortion networks from inside the jail with the help of mobile phones and connections outside.

Police and jail authorities are regularly conducting raids to seize mobile phones and other weapons. One such recent search of the cells resulted in the haul of two mobile phones, jail authorities said. The Shajiwa Jail has at present 670 inmates, including militants, NSA detainees, undertrials and convicts.

For housing the militant inmates, the government is constructing a “high security prison” inside the jail complex. The minister said construction of the high security prison would be completed in two months’ time. “The new prison is being constructed as mixing of the militants and other prisoners created problems and sometimes scuffles broke out between them,” Gaikhangam said.

To ensure a “non-partisan” security cover, there are also plans to replace the India Reserve Battalion and police personnel with more “neutral force” of CRPF, the minister said. He also inspected the ongoing construction for a 200-bed hospital for inmates inside the jail complex.

Gaikhangam earlier inspected Manipur’s oldest jail, Central Jail, where women inmates are currently housed. The state government also has plans to shift the women prisoners to Shajiwa Jail.

The inmates welcomed the home minister’s visit and sought more sports items and Gaikhangam promised to provide the items and better facilities.