Tihar prison authorities on Tuesday put the other four Delhi gang rape accused under 24X7 electronic surveillance, a day after prime accused Ram Singh allegedly hanged himself inside the cell at sub-jail three.
Singh’s cell had no closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
The four co-accused — Singh’s brother Mukesh, Vinay Gupta, Pawan Sharma and Akshay Thakur — have been shifted to 15X12 feet cells fitted with CCTV cameras for round-the-clock surveillance.
The measure has been taken to thwart any similar extreme step by the other accused, said a jail source, requesting anonymity.
Each of the four co-accused has been lodged separately in cells occupied by three other inmates. Mukesh and Thakur are lodged in sub-jail four, Gupta and Sharma in sub-jail seven.
“The activities of the four co-accused will be watched closely via CCTV cameras that cover their cells and on detection of any irregular activity, a response will be made immediately,” said the official.
Another jail source, however, said the prison authorities’ move was “a classic case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.”
“Has Ram Singh been under on electronic surveillance, his alleged suicide could have been averted. His cell mates said they were sleeping at the time, while the lone prison guard who manned the ward of 20 such cells in sub-jail three was too late to react,” the source said.
Director general (Delhi prisons) Vimla Mehra told HT: “A judicial probe is on, I don’t want to say anything.”
Other officials dismissed the allegations of laxity on part of the prison authorities. They said, “It is completely wrong to say that there was any laxity. Ram Singh was never assessed as somebody who could harm himself by the sub-jail’s superintendent. And, that is why he was not shifted to a CCTV-fitted cell.”
Singh’s body was found hanging inside his cell by a warder at 5.45am on Sunday, 15 minutes before the inmates were to undergo the 6am mandatory headcount.
“It seems Ram Singh began preparing for his suicide from around 3am, which the guard failed to detect completely,” said the source.
In a bid to end his life, Singh had made detailed preparations that must have consumed time. He used an improvised hand-knit rope, apparently made out of threads from his sleeping mat, and used a bucket to hang himself from a horizontal iron bar.
The bar was part of a metal frame fitted as the ceiling roof eight feet above in the cell’s front portion.
Singh and the four co-accused had barely any friends among the co-inmates and were shunned by others.
Loathed by most inmates, Singh was deemed foul-mouthed and not known to keep personal hygiene.