The Telegraph
Monday , March 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Security plug focus on red zone jail duo

Jamshedpur, March 24: Seraikela divisional and Ghatshila subdivisional jails will get extra security cover, inspector-general (prisons) Rakesh Kumar Sharma said here on Sunday.

Sharma, who had told The Telegraph earlier that he would try in his tenure to focus on two issues — prison security infrastructure and the quality of life behind bars — said he was focussed on both these jails as they lodged important rebel inmates.

Regarding the Seraikela divisional jail, the IG (prisons) rattled off a number of problems.

“There are 660 inmates lodged at present, whereas the capacity is just 298. Not only is Seraikela divisional jail overcrowded to the point of bursting at its seams, its existing security infrastructure is not satisfactory at all,” the senior officer pointed out the obvious dangers of the prison with a history of jailbreaks.

“I gathered the undertrial prisoners had escaped twice from Seraikela divisional jail, once from the Seraikela court hazat in 2009 and once from the prison itself in 2011,” Sharma said.

Naxalite leader Balram Sahu alias David had in fact armed himself with a pistol, flashed it at prison guards and escaped in 2011 from this jail.

On the chinks at Ghatshila subdivisional jail, Sharma said the watchtower was often without any security guard and must be adequately manned.

“This apart, the intelligence network inside the jail is weak. This has to be strengthened so that the movement of inmates and their behaviour, especially those implicated in Naxalite-related cases, can be ascertained well in advance,” said IG (prisons) Sharma.

Though Ghatshila subdivisional jail had less number of inmates than its capacity, it needed more security because it was at the heart of a rebel zone, Sharma said.

“At present, Ghatshila subdivisional jail had 288 inmates whereas it can lodge 325. But as the subdivisional jail is located in a Naxalite-hit area, we should take preventive steps,” the senior officer said.

On actions for strengthening the security in these two jails, Sharma said he had decided to provide adequate guards so that jail administration might be able to carry foolproof checks during the time undertrials are taken out of jail premises to courts and then brought.

“If checking of undertrial prisoners is done effectively during their entry to jail, and if everything, including foodgrain and cooked food is checked properly, then contraband items can’t enter jail premises,” said Sharma.

Banned items include anything from arms to SIM cards to cellphones.

He added that in both the jails, he also checked if inmates were getting hygienic food according to the provisions made under the jail manual, applicable for all Indian prisons.

“I have instructed the officials of these two jails to ensure inmates get proper quality and quantity of food. There must be no compromise on this,” he said.

Notorious 9 sent to central prisons

Nine rogue prisoners, who had kept the Deoghar district administration and police on their toes, were shifted to four central jails in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Palamau and Hazaribagh today.

The action followed a lawlessness and corruption complaint that Deoghar SP Subodh Prasad lodged with new IG (prisons) Ashok Kumar Sharma.

In his letter to Sharma, a copy of which was also sent to DGP Rajiv Kumar last week, Prasad said a gang of dozen-odd inmates — most of them accused in murders including that of industrialist N.K. Singhania — was responsible for total anarchy on the premises. They extorted money from fellow prisoners and manhandled those who could not pay up. And all this in connivance with officials, the SP claimed, also recommending transfer of jailer Arjun Prasad Sahu.

Reports suggest the jail gang oppressed new inmates from the first day. The gang directed them to deposit a fixed amount in a specified bank account, failing which the inmates were subjected to mental and physical torture. The seriousness of the crime can be gauged from the fact that the gang even breached female wards to abuse inmates.

SP Prasad said he was glad that the IG had issued the order of shifting the undertrials. “I will again write to the higher authorities for the transfer of the jailer and some jail employees,” he said, adding that he came to know of the corruption inside the prison when some inmates blew the whistle during routine remand and interrogation.

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