The Tihar Jail, one of Asia's largest prisons, has demanded the lethal INSAS assault rifle, the standard infantry weapon, from the government after intelligence inputs warned of a possible terror attack at the prison to free top militants.
The need to purchase INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) assault rifles for the central paramilitary forces guarding Tihar was felt even more after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike that claimed over 170 lives.
"We immediately reviewed our security after the Mumbai attacks. And then, based on the recommendation of the central paramilitary forces, we have decided to purchase the INSAS assault rifles," Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) CR Garg told IANS.
"In the first week of this month, we sent a proposal for buying 100 INSAS assault rifles to the home ministry. The Delhi government has also been informed," Garg said.
The INSAS rifles are accurate, fast and easy to handle, making it one of the most modern weapons in the country.
Garg said they expected the proposal to be cleared soon. "Once we get the weapons, 10 each would be distributed to all the 10 jails - nine in the Tihar complex and one in Rohini."
The INSAS assault rifle is the standard infantry weapon of the Indian armed forces and is being largely used in combating Maoist insurgency. It is broadly based on the time-tested Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, but with many modifications. The Indian Army also uses it.
And now Tihar Jail has also decided to purchase it.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Tamil Nadu Special Police and Delhi Armed Police guard the sprawling jail complex.
The jail, which houses over 11,500 inmates despite a sanctioned capacity of 6,250, also has its own security officials. According to jail sources, over 350 hardcore criminals, including many terrorists, are lodged inside Tihar. Among them is Mohammed Afzal Guru, facing a death sentence for the Indian parliament attack in 2001.
Garg said security has become their prime concern, especially after the Mumbai attacks.
"Last year we had purchased a series of gadgets and weapons, including bullet-proof jackets. This year we have sent a separate proposal for buying teargas shells to replace the existing stock," he said.
The senior jail functionary said that to further strengthen the security and surveillance on the activities of prisoners as well as jail staff, they would be installing 200 new cameras to cover all barracks and high security cells.
Last year, 258 cameras were installed with a control room in each jail.
He said four mobile jammers had been installed in the jail on a pilot basis to block signals emanating from the network of CDMA/GSM mobile towers.
"In the next three months, we will install mobile jammers in each jail. It would help in blocking sms, calls, mms and picture messages," Garg added.