Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit would inspect the living conditions in Tihar Jail in the wake of the death of seven inmates last week. Dikshit has not yet finalised the date for the inspection.
Interestingly, Dikshit has the charge of the Home Department, which looks after the jails in the city. Ironically, this would be Dikshit’s first “inspection” of the Tihar Jail in the last three years. On all earlier occasions, she had visited there for official functions.
On Wednesday, the Chief Minister chaired a meeting of senior officers, including Chief Secretary R Narayanaswami, Principal Secretary (Home) Shamsher Sheriff and Director-General (Prisons) BK Gupta , among others, to look into the reasons for the recent deaths and chalk out a strategy for better facilities in the jail. “The inmates had died because of drug addiction and induced diseases like tuberculosis and AIDS. Investigations are on, and we will soon ascertain the reasons,” she told reporters after the meeting.
Dikshit admitted that the jail had been facing water supply and sanitation problems. “We are in the process of drawing up certain short- and long-term measures for general improvement,” she added.
The measures include appointment of a Chief Medical Officer for Tihar Jail, construction of a sewage treatment plant in the next six months and installation of water coolers. The government also plans to issue a direction to the police not to send people held under preventive detention to Tihar Jail on the eve of Republic Day or Independence Day.
The detainees would either be kept at a police station or report to the police in the morning and evening.
Overcrowding was a major problem in Tihar Jail, the Chief Minister said, adding, the government is in the process of constructing a new jail in East Delhi. “We are working on this,” she said.
Dikshit stressed on a mechanism whereby undertrials who have spent a long time in jail would be released. “Some of the inmates have spent a long time and an institutional mechanism has to be found to release them,” she added.