UP jails overflow with prisoners

While the number of prisoners has been rising, those of the prison guards has declined. “As against the sanctioned strength of a little over 8,000, only around 6,000 personnel are available leaving a gap of 2,000,” said an official here.

“The shortage is so acute that one guard is manning as many as 25 prisoners,” the official said. No wonder that  jail breaks are on the rise. The situation inside the jails is “chaotic.”
“As many as 150 prisoners are kept in each barrack whereas, according to the rules, there should be 40 sq ft area for every prisoner,” he said.

The Gorakhpur district jail, which has a capacity of 822, currently houses 1,600 prisoners. “The situation is such that the inmates hardly find any place to sleep,” sources said. In some jails, the number was four times more than the capacity, sources pointed out. The presence of a large number of “mafia-dons-turned-politicians” in the jails across the state has only made the matter worse. “These high profile prisoners flout provisions of the jail manual regularly,” the officials said.

As many as 11 members of the UP legislature, including “mafia dons” like Mukhtar Ansari, who is facing several criminal cases, and a member of the Lok Sabha are currently lodged in the jails in the state.

“These politicians are vritually running parallel administration in the jails,” the officials said, adding they ‘sometimes also enjoy official patronage’. Many of them regularly meet workers and supporters and hold durbars (court),” they said.

Raids on the jail premises have in the past resulted in the recovery of weapons, cell phones, knives and drugs. Under the circumstances, it was not at all surprising that the incidents of jail breaks were on the rise.  The officials stress the need for more number of jails and modernisation of the existing ones.

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