At 87, Om Prakash Chautala is now Tihar’s oldest prisoner
According to prison records, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala is one of seven prisoners above the age of 80. There are another 63 between ages 70 and 80. Until Chautala’s sentencing on Friday, an 85-year-old convicted of murder was the oldest in the prison.
At 87, Om Prakash Chautala is the oldest of the 19,584 inmates lodged in the different jails of Tihar. On Friday, Chautala was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment by a special CBI court in a disproportionate assets case. The court also imposed a fine of ₹50 lakh on him.
According to senior prison officers, Chautala was brought to jail number 2, where he will be lodged in a cell with two other prisoners, at around 5pm on Friday. According to prison records, Chautala is one of seven prisoners above the age of 80. There are another 63 between ages 70 and 80. Until Chautala’s sentencing on Friday, an 85-year-old convicted of murder was the oldest in the prison.
Because of his old age and health, Chautala, like other prisoners over the age of 70 will also be entitled to a bed. Prisoners of advanced age are also not assigned any work in the jail’s factories. “Usually, on the doctor’s advice, we allow beds for elderly prisoners. In his (Chautala’s) case too, a bed will be given. The bed is from the jail factory. Apart from this, we also ensure that elderly prisoners have someone to take care of them inside. Prisoners with good conduct who wish to help the elderly are assigned such jobs. This is a voluntarily task assigned by the jail superintendent,” said a mid-level prison officer who asked not to be named.
The officer explained that young prisoners help wash the clothes of elderly prisoners and in other daily chores. “They also monitor the health of the elderly and ensure that the doctor is just a call away in case of any medical emergency. On the recommendation of the jail doctors, such elderly prisoners are also given a special diet. This could be in the form of more milk or other food items,” a second prison officer, who too asked not to be named, said.
The chief of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Chautala was released from jail on February 7 last year, after completing his jail term in the Junior Basic Teachers (JBT) recruitment scam case. The scam pertains to the recruitment of 3,206 teachers in 1999-2000 when Chautala was Haryana CM.
Another elderly politician prisoner is former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar (76). He is serving life imprisonment after his conviction in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case on December 17, 2018. Prison officers said Kumar spends most of his time alone and works as a gardener in prison.