Three days before Maoists escaped from a Chhattisgarh prison, the Union Home Ministry had cautioned state governments to raise security in the jails where they were being held, at a review meeting in Bhubaneswar.
Over 200 prisoners, many of them Maoists, escaped from the Dantewada jail on Sunday after overpowering prison guards. The district police has blamed Maoists for the jailbreak.
Home Ministry spokesman Onkar Kedia said home secretary Madhukar Gupta was in touch with the Chhattisgarh government and had sought a detailed report on the jailbreak. “The state has also been advised to review the security at other sensitive jails,” Kedia said. Within hours of the jailbreak, the ministry on Sunday sent advisories to other Naxal-affected states to step up vigilance at their prisons.
Officials at the Home Ministry suggested they had seen incidents like the one witnessed in Dantewada jail coming due to the inadequate security levels maintained at most jails to low levels of staffing and inadequate resources set apart from prisons.
At the meeting of the Task Force on Naxalism that ended in Bhubaneswar on Friday, the home ministry had cautioned state governments in this regard and asked them to significantly raise the level of security. States had been asked to increase deployment of manpower in prisons, impart proper training to security personnel and deploy gadgets like close-circuit cameras at such jails, a Home Ministry official said.
But the official acknowledged that retaining people caught for Maoist activities was a tricky business. The problem, they say, is that if you lodge them together, it makes it easier for them to conspire, operate out of the jail or give their organisation a better reason to attempt storming the jail.