Despite the ISO 9001:2015 certification awarded to the Bhopal Central Jail, HT has found that its security arrangements were far inferior in comparison to that at other ISO-certified prisons.
The fact that five of the prison’s 50 cameras were not working on Sunday night is only the tip of the iceberg. The jailbreak that night — which saw eight SIMI undertrials escape — has raised serious questions regarding the standard operating procedure (SOP) adopted at the establishment.
It remains unclear why only two warders were available to keep an eye on the prisoners, and no Special Armed Force (SAF) guard was able to locate the escapees from its 25-foot watch tower. According to sources, the first warder, who was on duty from 8pm to 2am, did not go near the block where the SIMI cadre were lodged. Following the change of guard, the second warder, Ramshankar Yadav, went to the area to check if everything was alright. He was allegedly overpowered and killed. Suspended deputy inspector general of jails MR Patel blamed it on a “staff crunch” at the prison. “However, the SAF guards could have easily spotted the escaping SIMI cadres. They were probably not alert enough,” he said.
Sceptics also questioned whether the locks on the gates of prison cells, blocks and sectors were changed every day, in accordance with SOP. While deputy superintendent of jails LKS Bhadauria admitted that there was a staff crunch due to Diwali, he denied that the SOP was disregarded.
The Bhopal Central Jail received the ISO 9001:2015 certification on August 3 in recognition of measures adopted to ensure proper administrative control and functional management over the establishment. The ISO clearly states that the 2015 certification is less prescriptive than its predecessor, focusing more on performance.