MP’s security nightmare: SIMI operatives, IS suspects, ISI agents in same jail
The jail now has around 40 dreaded inmates, including 32 alleged SIMI operatives, 3 IS-inspired suspects allegedly involved in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast, and 15 men accused of running an ISI espionage ring.india Updated: May 30, 2017 17:07 IST
Authorities at Bhopal Central Jail are looking at a security nightmare as the overcrowded prison, which has around 3000 inmates, will now have to keep an eye on 10 more alleged Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives.
Security arrangements were tightened at the jail after SIMI operative Safdar Nagori and 9 others were shifted there on Sunday. They were brought from Gujarat to Bhopal Central Jail after a court in Indore sentenced them to life imprisonment on charges of sedition and indulging in terrorist activities on February 27.
The jail now has around 40 dreaded inmates, including 32 alleged SIMI operatives, 3 IS-inspired suspects allegedly involved in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast in Shajapur district on March 7, and 15 men accused of running an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) espionage ring in the state.
Jails in the central state are overcrowded, lack upgraded technology and surveillance systems. MP placed second in terms of prisoner occupancy rate with 140 prisoners crammed in jails against the authorised capacity for 100 inmates, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
Sources said the state has 122 prisons, including 11 central jails, 39 district jails and 72 sub-jails, with over 39,000 inmates against a capacity of 27,677. Every year around 4.1% inmates are brought to these jails, which require the creation of 375 additional barracks.
An internal assessment was conducted by the state jail department after the jailbreak by 8 SIMI men in October last year to find out what the state’s jails lack in terms of the manpower and infrastructure.
Eight SIMI men broke out of the high-security jail after killing one guard and holding another hostage and were killed hours after they escaped. It was the second such jailbreak by members of the banned outfit in three years.
According to the jail department’s assessment, jails in the state need 46 watch towers, 49 night vision equipment, 42 baggage scanners, 32 CCTVs, 6 motorcycles per central jail, 2 motorcycles per district jail, 1 motorcycle for every sub-jail and 4 jeeps for central jails.
They also need an additional 568 barracks at a cost of Rs 284 crore to accommodate over 11,347 jail inmates, which are beyond the carrying capacity of the jails at present, according to the assessment.
And, authorities don’t want to take any chances in terms of the security arrangements at the Bhopal Central Jail where most of the alleged SIMI operatives are lodged.
Jail superintendent Dinesh Nargave said as the number of SIMI operatives and suspects lodged in Bhopal jail had reached 32, the security has been tightened.
He added a separate zone has been created in the jail for around 40 inmates, including the alleged SIMI men, who are being monitored continuously through 42 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
“Of the 15 accused of running an ISI espionage ring, only 4 to 5 have been placed in the dreaded category,” he said.
Nargave said high-tech security and surveillance arrangements will soon be made and more CCTVs will be procured.
Sources said jail authorities are also planning to buy electroshock hand-held weapons such as stun guns and tasers for self-defence and controlling jail inmates who create a ruckus or try to escape.
They added the Bhopal Central Jail requires additional manpower for strengthening its security. At present, it has around 250 warders and 50 head warders but requires an additional 50 warders and 20 head warders. Against a requirement of 6 night vision equipment, it has one such equipment at present, sources further said.
Director general (DG Jail) Sanjay Chaudhary told the Hindustan Times the security arrangements have been enhanced and more measures would be taken up in the coming day in the Bhopal Central Jail.
Earlier, Chaudhary instructed officials that no jail employee should carry mobile phones inside the premises. He also said no official or private vehicle were to be allowed inside the jail except those carrying food material.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Prison Statistics India 2015’, overcrowding was “one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates.”
The occupancy rate at the all India level at the end of 2015 was 114.4%, it said.
At 276.7%, Dadra and Nagar Haveli is reported to have most overcrowded prisons, followed by Chhattisgarh (233.9%), Delhi (226.9%), Meghalaya (177.9%) and Uttar Pradesh (168.8%).