269 inmates, 73 jail staffers across state prisons Covid positive: ReportUpdated: Jun 16, 2020 00:40 IST
Additional director general of police and inspector general of prisons Sunil Ramanand in a report to the Bombay high court (HC) has submitted that a detailed report on the measures taken for the prison inmates and staff in view of the Covid-19 outbreak. According to the report, 17,695 inmates and jail staff were screened, following which swab tests were conducted for 1,681 inmates and staff, of whom 269 inmates and 73 jail staff tested positive for Covid-19. The report further stated 115 inmates and 51 staffers recovered after treatment while four inmates succumbed to the virus.
The report was submitted to the court in response to three petitions filed in the HC complaining of the plight of prisoners due to lack of proper healthcare facilities and absence of social distancing norms due to over-crowding in jails. The petition is to come up for hearing on Tuesday.
The note was submitted on Monday following a direction by the division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice SS Shinde while hearing public interest litigations (PILs) filed by NGO People Union for Civil Liberty and two individuals — Geeta Jain, a politician from Mira-Bhayandar, and Archana Rupwate, an activist and lawyer.
The report consisting information of inmates and jail staffers from 11 prisons across the state has pointed out that prison authorities have been taking due precaution for the safety and welfare of jail inmates and staff with the able help of district collectors and municipal commissioners, who are the designated authorities under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
According to the jail-wise list of inmates and jail staff screened for temperature, oxygen levels and pulse rate, Yerawada Central Prison screened 4,466 inmates, while 4,000 inmates were screened in Thane Central Prison, followed by 3,318 in Aurangabad Central Prison, 2,217 in Taloja Central Prison and 2,082 in Mumbai Central Prison.
After the screenings, swab tests were conducted on 545 inmates and jail staff in Mumbai Central Prison, of whom 158 inmates and 39 staff tested positive —the highest number of Covid-19 cases reported in a jail. The report stated that of the infected persons from the jail, 98 inmates and 37 staff have recovered while the rest are under treatment.
The second highest number of Covid cases was from Solapur district prison. Of the 377 swab tests conducted, 62 inmates and 13 jail staffers tested positive. The report stated only two inmates and eight staff have been cured while the rest are under treatment.
The report also stated that a total of four inmates succumbed to the virus across all state prisons.
The report further states that district collectors have arranged for 35 temporary prisons in 26 districts to decongest existing prisons and to hold and quarantine new inmates. As Thane Central Prison is grossly overcrowded, the prison superintendent has requested Thane district collector to open a temporary prison. However, no temporary prison has been opened yet.
The report also mentioned that jail superintendents have been instructed to purchase additional mobile phones to allow inmates to speak to their families and lawyers.