The high-security Tihar Jail’s authorities are known to handle hardened criminals and terrorists, but a much less serious offender is allegedly giving top prison officials sleepless nights these days, say jail sources.
An HIV-positive undertrial, 24-year-old Ranjit (name changed), has been reportedly terrorising inmates and demanding undue liberties from prison officials by threatening he would spread the deadly disease, a prison official said.
On being contacted, Sunil Gupta, Tihar’s law officer, said, “Yes, some instances have come to our notice where HIV-positive prisoners are causing problems for jail authorties by flouting rules.”
A jail official said, “He asks for better food and stays outdoors even after 7 pm, the time after which prisoners are supposed to get inside their barracks. Officials fear going near him since he threatens to beat them up and spread the disease.”
Tihar has over 13,500 prisoners (about 83 per cent undertrials), including high-profile and hardcore criminals. Of these, 40 are HIV positive but their medical condition is not revealed to give them an ‘equal’ status inside the prison, said the official.
Ranjit is reportedly lodged in Jail Number 4. Arrested from Sarojini Nagar, he reportedly has eight cases of attempt to murder, attempt to commit culpable homicide, robbery, dacoity and assault against him. He was lodged in Tihar in February 2004, said the official.
Last month, he allegedly refused to get inside his barrack on time and warded off junior jail official by threatening to slash his wrists and touch his body with theirs. The jail superintendent reportedly had to intervene to sort out the problem. “The jail management’s biggest challenge is to handle terrorists, high-profile prisoners and other sensitive inmates. I guess jail officials will now also have to be trained in handling cases where patients take advantage of their illness to act on their whims and fancies," said Sunil Gupta.
Ranjit has allegedly been involved in such cases before too. In June last year, he sneaked out of his ward in the night and threatened a prison guard on being caught, said the official. A few months earlier, while on his way to Patiala House Court in a van, he asked a police official for a cigarette and banged his head against the van on being refused, said the official.
“This is his usual modus operandi. Despite repeated offences, we cannot take any solid action against him since jail rules allow us only to reprimand convicts,” said the official.