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Chaibasa jailbreak probe stresses need for reforms

Tapan Chakravorti  |  Kolkata/ Ranchi 

Inspector General ( Prisons), Jharkhand, in his inquiry report to state Home Secretary said that the installed in the Chaibasa Divisional Jail was ineffective and it might help the three hardcore Maoists in plotting the jailbreak using mobile phones with their agents for escape on Monday.

IG (Prisons) told media that during his inquiry into the jailbreak incident he used his cell phone several times inside Chaibasa jail and detected the jammer had literally no impact on electronic signals.

He said that public sector Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) was assigned to install three mobile phone jammers at Chaibasa district jail. But the PSU engineers left their job midway installing only one jammer to attend an emergency call from the venue in New Delhi in October.

Sources in the telecom industry said that installation of mobile phone jammers in all jails across the country had started with the directives of the Supreme Court during hearing of alleged misuse of mobile phones by Papu Yadav, the former RJD MP in Beur jail.

A division bench comprising of Justice N Santosh Hedge and Justice S B Sinha had asked mobile service providers, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Reliance Infocomm to intimate the court on installation of mobile phone jammers in the central jails for preventing “highly influential and powerful personalities from misusing mobile phones while being lodged in jail”.

Sources said the jammers can act as a virtual transmitter and interfere with the normal working of cellphones, blocking both incoming and outgoing calls.

Some states in the country has decided to go in for mobile phone jammers at jails where Maoists and dreaded criminals were housed.

The jammers will also help the jail authorities to curb organised crime and extortion business being operated by hardcore criminals from the prisons with the help of mobile phones.

In a related development, police seized 13 mobile phones, 17 phone chargers, a knife and other banned materials from Garwah district jail during surprise raids, a day after three hardcore Maoists escaped from West Singhbhum district jail at Chaibasa.

In order to reinforce the jails in Jharkhand, the state government has decided to depute central paramilitary forces to guard the state’s eight Maoist lodging jails following daring escape of three hardcore Maoist leaders from West Singhbhum divisional jail at Chaibasa on Monday by cutting iron bars of their cell ventilator, installed 15 feet above the floor. The three Maoist leaders had been in jail for the last two to three years for trial.

Police started combing operation in the state to arrest the escaped Maoist prisoners. Senior police officials feel that the incident of jailbreak by the Maoist leaders was a big blow to Jharkhand’s anti-Maoist operations.

According to police sources, all the three Maoist leaders were involved in killing more than 40 security personnel in Saranda forest between 2002 and 2003.

Meanwhile, police arrested the jailor, head warden and cell warden for allegedly facilitating the jailbreak. Police recovered over Rs 2 lakh in cash and five bank passbooks from the jailor’s residence on the jail premises.

The three arrested jail employees were produced before the chief judicial magistrate (CGM), Chaibasa, who ordered their remand in judicial custody.

According to a source in the Directorate of Prisons, Jharkhand has 26 jails including 3 central jails, 19 district jails and 4 sub-jails. The total prison capacity in all the jails is 11,186 against which present occupancy is 17,166 (153%).

First Published: Fri, January 21 2011. 00:09 IST