JAYA CHECK ON PRISONER SHIFT 

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By FROM M.R. VENKATESH in Chennai
  • Published 25.03.02
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Chennai, March 25 :    Chennai, March 25:  The Tamil Nadu government today decided to put a check on the movement of "high-risk prisoners" from one jail to another in the wake of the escape of two Islamic militants earlier this month. On March 7, Imam Ali, an extremist with alleged ISI links, had escaped from custody while being taken to the Palayamkottai Central Prison after a remand extension in a Madurai court. The same day, another extremist, Hyder Ali, had bolted while in transit from one court to another. Both are associated with the banned Al-Umma and wanted in connection with several bomb blast cases in the state. Though Hyder was recaptured, Imam is still at large. Both were lodged in the Chennai Central Prison. Chief minister Jayalalithaa said her government intends to put in place video conference facilities in all central prisons so that remand periods of high-risk prisoners could be extended electronically without having to physically move them from court to court. However, to deal with immediate contingencies, the state government today passed an order, invoking the powers inherent in Section 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code under which "certain dangerous prisoners need not be removed from the prison except on another order by the government", official sources said. Extremist and religious fundamentalist elements like the two Al-Umma prisoners would also come under the category of "dangerous persons". Sources said the authorities did not want to take any more chances after Hyder and Imam escaped. For the present though, when such dangerous prisoners have to be moved for remand extension by other courts, commando forces would escort the police vehicles. In the coming budget session beginning Wednesday, sources said a Bill will be introduced for early implementation of the video conference facility in all central prisons. Once enacted, the law will do away with the need for physically moving high-risk prisoners for remand extension over long distances.