Banned articles being smuggled into Mangaluru jail

320 newly appointed warders to end staff shortage woes in State jails, says DGP

Two mobile phones tied to tennis balls, a mobile phone charger covered in a piece of cloth, cigarette lighters, tablets that give ‘kick,’ packets of ganja hidden inside banana (after making an opening in the middle portion of banana and filling it with ganja) or simply wrapped in a paper or waste plastic cover, a knife, vodka and gin filled in mineral water bottles… these are some of the items found by the prison staff inside the Mangaluru prison premises on regular basis.

If sources are to be believed, there are more than half-a-dozen mobile phones at any given point of time inside the prison. How they land inside the prison premises is anybody’s guess if they have seen the location of the prison. Perhaps, no other prison in the State (or the country) is located in the heart of the City – by the side of main road on one side, a college on another side and opposite a multistorey hotel (from where every activity inside the prison can be seen.)

To add to the woes, the CCTV cameras, installed inside the prison premises at a cost of Rs 3 lakh, have stopped functioning, a few days after they were installed last year.

When contacted, Prison Superintendent V Krishna Murthy told Deccan Herald that he alone has seized more than 40 mobile phones from inside the prison in a short span of two months after he took charge (November 6, 2015).

City Police Commissioner Chandra Sekhar, in a surprise raid, had seized 12 mobile phones recently.

Stating that there are only 15 staffers, including six women (and three are on deputation) against the 28 posts, the prison superintendent said there are more than 400 criminals (undertrials) housed in four different places and going by the statistics, each staff has to monitor 35 to 40 criminals, which is not an easy task.

“Right from hiding the cell phones beneath the tiles to hiding them inside the tubelight strip or ceiling fan box or toilet basins, the undertrials have been finding new ways to hide banned products,” a staff said on condition of anonymity and agreed that there may be black sheep among the staff without whose help it is impossible to smuggle banned goods.

Posting women staff in male section of the prison too is one of the drawbacks as they (females) may not be comfortable frisking the male prisoners. “I have already brought the woes to the notice of the authorities concerned,” Krishna Murthy said and added that Mangaluru prison is one of the toughest prisons to work with, as the staff have to face too many problems, including pressure from different quarters.

To prove his point, the Mangaluru prison has seen three superintendents in the last one year. While Mahesh Kumar was transferred on March 5, 2015 (he had taken charge on November 13, 2014), B T Obaleshappa was transferred on November 6, 2015 (he had taken charge on March 6, 2015) and V Krishna Murthy took charge on November 6, 2015.

When contacted, DGP (Prisons) H N Satyanarayan Rao said a total of 320 warders have been appointed in the State and they would get the appointment letters anytime soon once the police verification is done.

To another query on mobile jammer, he said the instrument has been installed, but it may take some time before it starts functioning. Rao said the department is taking all steps to beef up the security in the prisons and curb all illegal activities.

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