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Now, video calls will help convicts in Maharashtra stay connected with their families

The facility is part of the reforms being launched in jails after convict Manjula Shetye died after being allegedly assaulted by prison guards.

mumbai Updated: Nov 27, 2017 10:56 IST
Megha Sood
Megha Sood
Hindustan Times
Manjula Shetye murder,Video calls,Maharashtra
The convicts, who hail from Mumbai, are generally shifted to Yerwada, Taloja or Aurangabad jails owing to overcrowding in city jails. (HT FILE)

The state government has introduced a video conferencing facility for convicts to let them catch up with their families more to help them cope with prison life.

The facility is part of the reforms being launched in jails after convict Manjula Shetye allegedly died after being assaulted by prison guards. Her death in Byculla jail had raised questions on treatment of inmates and that made the state opt for reforms. “This facility is not for under trials,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, inspector general of police (Maharashtra prisons).

The Maharashtra government has decided to make this facility available to inmates who have been shifted to far off prisons owing to overcrowding in jails. Prisoners’ relatives, who earlier had to travel long distances and stand in queues to talk to their kin, will just have to go to the nearest district jail and register themselves to chat with the inmate.

Sinha said Mumbai prisons only have a handful of convicts. The convicts, who hail from Mumbai, are generally shifted to Yerwada, Taloja or Aurangabad jails owing to overcrowding in city jails. The family members of these convicts find visiting them difficult owing to the distance. While Arthur Road has an official capacity of 804 inmates, it currently houses more than 3,000 of the, of whom just 6 are convicts. Similarly, Byculla jail also has just three convicts. “The jails in far off regions will have less number of visiting relatives after this facility is introduced which will be easier to monitor from Mumbai,” said an official.

Through this facility, a convict would get around 10 minutes a month to speak to his family. After they get a confirmation from the district court, the inmate will be brought to the video conferencing room to talk to his relatives. Jail officials said an operator would be posted to man the facility and relatives would not have to pay anything for it.

Earlier in 2015, this facility was started in Arthur Road, Taloja and Thane Central jails, but was later stopped due to reasons which were not disclosed by jail authorities. Between 2012 and 2015, the state government had spent over Rs615 crore in equipping all 38 prisons of Maharashtra and 217 of the 295 courts with video conferencing facilities so that an inmate can be produced for hearing in various courts in the absence of adequate police staff.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 10:56 IST