At Tihar jail, there is a censorship of its own kind. The newspapers and journals that reach inmates are carefully re-edited by the jail’s so-called censor board to ensure they must not carry any anti-Tihar story.
“The censorship is against anything that is anti national and Tihar is a state’s body,” said a senior Tihar jail officer, implying that anti-Tihar is anti-national.
The officer who did not wish to be named further quoted the jail manual that carries the set of rules to be followed by the authorities.
“The idea is to ensure that any literature that may incite riots or any kind of trouble inside the prison has to be censored. We censor stories that reveal modus-operandi of criminals who escape jail or indulge in other unlawful activities in the prison,” said the officer.
Inmates of Asia’s largest jail receive 700 copies of various newspapers and journals published in English, Hindi and Urdu, everyday.
The issue came into light when during a recent visit to the jail, a Hindustan Times reporter was secretly asked by an inmate as to why we (the newspaper reporters) only do positive stories about the jail. Even before the reporter could respond, a learned inmate intervened, “anti Tihar stories are cut from the paper so that we do not read them.”
The conversation that followed revealed that the emphasis is less on censoring anti-national reports but more on those, which target Tihar.
The inmates appeared ignorant about the series of stories that were reported by almost all national dailies on the rampant deaths in the prison during summers in 2007. If the inmates are to be believed, summers in the prison are still a nightmare.