The Telegraph
Monday , March 24 , 2014
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Prison deaths trigger concern

A data compiled by Public Mission, a civil society, revealed that 63 undertrial prisoners died in different jails of the state between January 1 and December 1 last year.

Sanjay Singh, state president, Public Mission, released the data on Sunday.

Kedar Prasad, an undertrial prisoner lodged in Beur Central Jail, died at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) on October 26, 2013. He was admitted to the health hub after he complained of uneasiness.

Prasad, a resident of Jana village in Nalanda district, was arrested on August 29, 2013, in connection with a forgery case. His death came within three months of his arrest from his native village in Nalanda, around 70km east of south Patna. He died of cardiac arrest.

Only a month-and-a-half ago, Rakesh Thakur, another prisoner lodged in the Beur jail, died at PMCH after a prolong illness. Rakesh’s death triggered protest in the prison after the inmates accused the jail authority of lackadaisical attitude to provide proper treatment to sick prisoners.

The jail authorities claimed that these prisoners died in the course of treatment in different hospitals. The maximum deaths were reported from Beur Cental Jail, where 17 prisoners died in 2013.

Singh said the statement of the officials of the Beur Central Jail and PMCH differed on the issue. While the jail authorities claimed that the prisoners died during the treatment in the hospital, the health hub denied this claim.

The Public Mission has submitted a list of the deaths in different prisons to the state human rights commission, which took cognisance of the matter. On the complaint petition of the Public Mission, the commission recommended the state government to provide Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of Indradev Mahto, a convicted prisoner.

Mahto, a resident of Sasaram in Rohtas district, died on February 24, 2012. “In most of the cases, no compensation has been awarded to the relatives of the prisoners, who died either in the jail or the hospital for want of adequate treatment,” Singh said.

Bihar has 56 jails — eight central jails, 31 district jails and 17 sub-divisional jails. Altogether they have the capacity to accommodate 33,119 prisoners. The information sought under the RTI Act by one Ravish Kumar, a resident of Patna, said in most of the jails, the number of prisoners was more than the sanctioned capacity.

Singh said the data of prisoner deaths have been gathered from 11 jails only. “The number of deaths would increase after information is collected from the jails across the state,” he said.

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