Even after jailbreak by eight SIMI suspects in November, Madhya Pradesh, which has country’s third highest number of jails, doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons. The jail break by two under-trials accused of rape and loot in Morena district jail on Monday after making a hole in the jail wall and many more such escapes over the years has put a question mark on the safety in the jails and put spotlight on issues related to the infrastructure and manpower across 122 jails in the state.
At present there are 39,024 inmates in MP’s 122 jails against a capacity of 27,677, said sources in the jail department. After SIMI jailbreak, state jail department had conducted an internal assessment- about what the state’s 122 jails lacks in terms of the manpower and infrastructure. According to this assessment, MP needs 568 additional barracks at a cost of Rs 284 crore to accommodate over 11,347 jail inmates, which are beyond the carrying capacity of the jails at present.
After the jail break in Morena on Monday, the authorities have announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 each on the two jail inmates who escaped, ordered an inquiry by constituting three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) and given directions for shooting any jail inmate trying to escape from a jail. Earlier HT had raised the question whether the “outdated” 118-year-old Prisons Act was responsible for security lapses, as the 1894-enacted law barred guards from carrying arms inside the jail.
The crowding of the jails is one of the major issues in MP jails. Such overcrowding also contributes in compromising the security aspect according to experts. Against an authorized capacity for 100 inmates, MP jails are housing 140 prisoners, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. MP has 122 jails including 11 central jails, 39 district jails and 72 sub-jails. Also, every year there is an average addition of around 4.1 % inmates in the jails, which requires creation of 375 additional barracks, said sources in the jail department.
Jails in MP are also suffering due to lack of upgraded technology and surveillance systems. The Performance Audit on ‘Management of Jails’ in MP covering 2007 to 2012 period, also talked about shortages of weapons and modern security equipment such as CCTV, Siren, Intercom, Generators etc mainly in district jails and subjails of MP. According to the recent assessment, MP jails also need 46 watch towers, 49 night vision equipment, 42 baggage scanners, 32 CCTVs , six motor cycles per central jail, 2 motor cycles per district jail and one motor cycle for every sub jail.
The lapses in structural and manpower security are responsible for jail break incidents, said jail authorities.
Director General (Jail) Sanjay Chaudhary said, “Most of the jails are more than 70 year old and maintenance is a major issue. In the name of structural security, 122 MP jails, 3rd highest number of jails in India, don’t have proper security arrangements. Every jail must have two out walls of good height. But 60% jails in MP don’t have any outer wall. In the district jails, the facilities like siren and CCTV cameras are not available”
Chaudhary said jail guards don’t have canes, arms and ammunition to deal with dreaded criminals in case of emergency. “The electric fencing is another thing which is necessary for security of the jails. We have given a proposal to Chief Minster and he has accepted it. According to budget, the facilities will be improved in the jails in the coming time, “said Chaudhary.
Post jailbreak by SIMI suspects, the state government also directed Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, an autonomous Institution of MP government in Bhopal to suggest amendments required in MP Prison Rules 1968 after thoroughly going through the new Model Prison Manual 2016. The amendments will then be sent for approval by the jail department to the state government.
Jails have been set up in the state under the Prison Act, 1894 and the Prisoners Act, 1900 . Based on these Acts, jails are governed here by the Madhya Pradesh Prisons Rules, 1968. The Model Prison Manual introduced by Central government in December 2003 was partially adopted by MP in February 2008. However in January 2016 a new Model Prison Manual 2016 was approved by the union home ministry.
Box: Hole in jail security
Omprakash Jat, 36, and Anil Rathore, 26, facing trials in rape and loot cases, escaped from Morena district jail on Monday by making a hole in one of the jail walls. Surprisingly jail authorities came to know about the incident, when relatives of one the escaped inmates, came to meet him on Monday. After the escape bid, ADG GR Meena inspected the jail and ordered the authorities to shoot at site, if an inmate made any attempt to escape the jail. The Morena police has also announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 each on both inmates.
Timeline of jail breaks and related incidents in MP
January 20, 2016: A suspected militant Syed Ahmed in custody escapes by jumping off a moving train near Itarsi railway station in Hoshangabad District.
February 2016: Four SIMI suspects who had escaped from Khandwa jail in 2013, arrested in Rourkela Odisha after a three-hour-long operation.
July 6, 2016: Five members of an inter-state vehicle lifters’ gang escape from a police lock-up in Gwalior by digging a hole in the toilet wall.
December 2015: An inmate serving jail term for murder escapes from Satna central jail.
June 26, 2015: Three prisoners escape from district jail in Mandla district after scaling a 20-feet high wall
July 23, 2015: A 22-year-old murder convict, who escaped from central jail in Narsinghpur district by scaling the high boundary wall, arrested in Chhindwara within 24 hours.
February 2014: Sarman Shivhare, accused of 17 murders and considered a psychopath , tries to escape from Gwalior central jail with the help of a rope. He fails as a fellow prisoner shouts while he tries to escape and cops catch him.
October 1, 2013: Seven SIMI suspects escape from Khandwa jail. Police arrest one of them on the same day.
December 24, 2013: MP’s Anti-Terror Squad arrests three SIMI suspects who had escaped from Khandwa jail from Sendhwa in Barwani district.
December end, 2015: An under trial prisoner escapes from Ambah sub jail in Morena district by scaling its wall with the help of a rope.
November 2011: Nine jail inmates accused of dacoity and murder escape from Dabra sub-jail near Gwalior after offering tea missed with some intoxicants to the jail guards