80 prisoners out on emergency parole fail to surrender back
At least 80 prisoners, who had been granted emergency parole last year at the beginning of the pandemic to decongest the prisons, have failed to return to prison and are currently absconding, officials said.
Prison officials said they will write to the Delhi Police with a list of names of all such prisoners who had failed to return after the end of their bail period. Many jail officers, who wish not to be named, said that among the 80, there are many murder convicts too, who were supposed to surrender this month. The surrenders are happening jail wise and so far 80 prisoners had failed to turn up on their set dates, jail officials said.
“The process of surrendering began on February 6. The prisoners had to surrender at Mandoli jail, quarantine there temporarily before their transfer to their respective jails. Officials at Mandoli have reported that there at 20-30 prisoners from each sub-jail, who have not yet surrendered. We had chosen Mandoli jail as the surrender point so that even if a prisoner was Covid-19 positive, he/she can be detected early before being allowed to mingle with other prisoners,” said a jail officer.
As one of the first measures to decongest jails and ensure social distancing at the start of the pandemic , nearly 1000 prisoners were released on “emergency parole” in April last year. The three jails in Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini collectively hold over 18,000 prisoners. The prisoners were originally supposed to surrender after eight weeks, but the surrender date was extended at different intervals as Covid-19 cases kept rising till November last year. Finally, the surrender process started on February 6, during which jails noted that many prisoners had refused to return.
One such prisoner, who had been declared absconding was convict Shamshad Khutkan alias Rahul,31, convicted in the 2010 Dhaula Kuan gangrape case. Khutkan, who was serving life imprisonment in the infamous case, was among those released last year on parole. Khutkan was to surrender on February 20, but had gone absconding. A police team arrested him on February 22 (Monday) after a shoot-out in north Delhi. Police have said that Khutkan refused to turn himself in and was arrested with a pistol, which he used to fire at the police team on Monday. Delhi police on Monday said that Khutkan was involved in at least 12 robberies in the last two months.
A second jail officer said that apart from the 80, who have gone missing, there are many elderly prisoners who have informed the prison department that they are waiting till the Delhi high court decides on a plea about the surrender of prisoners above 65 years. A city lawyer has filed a plea requesting the HC to extend the parole for all elderly prisoners. “There are a few elderly ones, who are in touch with us. We cannot call them absconding.”
Sandeep Goel, director-general of prisons, Delhi, said,” At this stage, it will not be proper to estimate the number of prisoners who have not returned. The process of surrender is still on. We will be informing the concerned police station if prisoners fails to return.”
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