To curb the illegal use of mobile phones, the Maharashtra prison department has moved a proposal to procure and install 39 new mobile jammers across the state’s nine central jails. According to prison department officials, the proposal was approved by the home department and the tendering process has been initiated. The new jammers are likely to be installed over the next few months.
Additional director general (Prisons) BK Upadhyay told HT that the new mobile jammers will mostly be fitted in central prisons.
The illegal use of phones inside jails by undertrials and convicts has been a major headache for jail and police officials, who have often found criminals and underworld operatives running crime syndicates from inside prison walls. Officials added that though there are currently 70 to 80 jammers inside various central and district prisons, the old jammers are not working properly, which has caused them to seek replacements.
“There are times when telecom companies increase their frequency. When this happens, a portion of the jail starts receiving signal. Criminals take advantage of this,” said an official. Explaining why jammers stop working sometimes, he said central jails are built over a large area and installing a single jammer for the entire area is impossible. He said multiple jammers are used, which sometimes face technical issues . Criminals then take advantage of these loopholes, he said.
Officials said inmates use various techniques to smuggle SIM cards and handsets inside the jail. Despite preventive steps being taken, the criminals still manage to make calls and run rackets from behind bars. Officials, however, said jammers are more useful than most of the methods employed by prison officials to curb the illegal use of mobile phones in jails.
The jails where this problem is most rampant includes Arthur Road Jail, Taloja Jail and Nashik Jail.
In April 2014, Uday Pathak — the main accused in the 2011-Kurar quadruple murders — was found running a gang using a mobile phone he had smuggled into Arthur Road Jail. In June 2013, gangster Abu Salem was shot at in Taloja Jail. It was later found that the shooter, Devendra Jagtap, had spoke to gangster Chhota Shakeel on a mobile phone smuggled into Taloja Jail and accepted a contract to kill Salem.