Fifteen minutes before noon on Tuesday, murder accused Majboor Rehman became the first of 19 under-trial prisoners (UTPs) in judicial custody to ‘inaugurate’ the first jail in Arunachal Pradesh.
Rehman, though, would have been robbed of his dubious distinction had felons of various shades not made off with the furnishings of the seven-acre district jail five years ago.
Under pressure from civil rights activists for keeping UTPs in unhygienic, overcrowded lock-ups, the state government had a decade ago sought funds from New Delhi to establish jails. The Centre obliged in 2000, releasing Rs 10 crore under the 11th Finance Commission to construct two jails and seven sub-jails.
The district jail at Jully Basti, located 6 km from state capital Itanagar was completed in 2004. Somehow, the government could not manage to get a VVIP from New Delhi to inaugurate it. And in these five years, thieves took away almost everything in the jail — from window frames to electrical fittings.
The wait to have the jail inaugurated ended on Tuesday with Rehman moving in as the first of 19 registered prisoners. “They were shifted from Itanagar police station, but not before we renovated the jail at an expenditure of Rs 20 lakh,” jail superintendent Michi Paku told HT from Itanagar.
The jail at Jully Basti, Paku added, has 50 blocks. Ten of these are for women.