Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bihar to shift Naxal prisoners

Ramashankar, Hindustan Times
Patna, December 23, 2007
First Published: 01:25 IST(23/12/2007)
Last Updated: 01:26 IST(23/12/2007)

Alarmed at the sudden spurt in violence inside prisons, including the latest flare-up at the Beur Model Jail in Patna, the state government has decided to keep shifting hardcore Naxal inmates periodically from one central jail to another.

The move is aimed at preventing them from developing proximity with other prisoners and getting organised.

With around 700 hardcore Naxalites in different jails in Bihar, including 150 in the Beur jail, the jail administration has lately been finding it difficult to deal with them. The Naxalites are, however, mostly kept in the six central jails in Patna, Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Gaya and Bhagalpur. Only a few of them are lodged in district jails.

The problem gets accentuated due to the meagre strength of prison staff. At present, the prisons are working with just 50 per cent of the sanctioned strength. Worse, the jail staff don’t have specialised training, including arms training. The move was initiated during the tenure of former IG (Prisons) Harjot Kaur but the scheme fizzled out after her transfer. IG (Prisons) Sandip Paundrik admitted that the current strength of personnel in Bihar prisons was around 40-50 per cent.

The government’s plan to release prisoners booked for petty offences and women has also not materialised to the desired extent, sources said.

Paundrik said the government has launched a number of schemes to improve the living condition in prisons, including improved sanitation, drinking water facilities and health check-ups.

The government recently decided to release Rs 20 crore for installing CCTVs, video conferencing systems and other facilities in the jails.

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