Terrorists, murderers, rapists and blade-wielders to small-time criminals, the Tihar prison has law-breakers of all hues.
“It’s a virtually a city inhabited by undertrials and convicts of all sorts. Just because they are lodged in prison does not mean they are leading a rule-bound life,” said a jail source.
“Many a time, if an undertrial is accused of a heinous crime, we send him to a high-security cell. The idea is not just to stop him from harming others, but also to prevent him from getting harmed by other inmates, including blade-wielders and bullies, who may be itching to target him due to several reasons whether right or wrong,” he said.
Referring to the suicide of undertrial Ram Singh, the source said, “Those accused of rape face visible or invisible hostility from other inmates. A rapist is hated and looked down upon as filth by other inmates.”
HT had on December 19, 2012, first reported how Singh’s brother and co-accused in the rape case, Mukesh, were greeted with expletives by the jail inmates on his arrival.
To add to this, Tihar prison is plagued by a shortage of personnel and officials. “There is a shortage of around 30% manpower across all posts, including security-related, for three years. Though the jail’s capacity is around 6,500, over 12,000 inmates are lodged here right now. Despite, frequent requests, the shortage has not been addressed,” said another jail source.
The prison has installed nearly 258 CCTVs to prevent any irregular activity and plans to install 250 more, said the source. “As of now, most CCTVs are installed inside the high security wards and cells,” he said. Singh’s cell located in sub-jail three had no CCTV.
To counter wily inmates, the prison complex will soon be equipped with a set of upgraded mobile jammers capable of blocking mobile phones through third-generation (3G) electromagnetic signals.
The existing jammers in Tihar Jail, numbering eight, are only capable of blocking 2G signals.
The jammers will also prevent tampering. The prison administration has also installed X-ray scanners and metal scanners at the jail’s entrances to prevent smuggling in of mobile phones, SIM cards, tobacco and weapons such as blades.