Inmates clash with staff inside Srinagar Central Jail

Inmates clash with staff inside Srinagar Central Jail

Family members of the inmates wait outside the Central Jail Srinagar after clashes between prisoners and the staff of the Jail, in Srinagar, Friday, April 05, 2019. According to the officials, prisoners went on a rampage against the move to shift them within the prison facility for a renovation of some barracks. (PTI Photo)

Clashes broke out between prisoners and the staff at Central Jail Srinagar after the rumours of shifting of inmates outside Kashmir because of repair work on the premises surfaced. 

Reports said trouble started on Thursday night in the Central Jail as the inmates resisted the prison authorities’ move to shift them from the two barracks marked for renovation.

A police official said the prisoners thought that they would be shifted to jails outside the valley and went on a rampage setting on fire gas cylinders and vandalising jail property. At least two barracks and the jail mess were set on fire. Reports said that two inmates were injured in the clashes.

J&K Director General of Police and Prisons Dilbagh Singh confirmed that the inmates burnt a structure within the facility. "Some inmates instigated others to stop the repair and reinforcement works inside a barrack. Others (jail inmates) joined and resorted to some violent acts on the jail staff. (They) also set some place on fire," he said.

As the news about clashes within the jail spread, authorities suspended Internet services in Srinagar and south Kashmir areas. Security forces were deployed in old city areas to prevent protests.

Jail under NIA radar

The Srinagar Central Jail attracted the attention of the security agencies after Lashker-e-Taiba commander Naveed Jatt alias Abu Hunzullah, who was lodged there, escaped from a hospital while being taken for medical check-up on February 6 last year. Two policemen were killed by the militants at Srinagar's S M H S Hospital during the incident.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided the Jail premises in March 2018 and recovered over two dozen mobile phones, incriminating documents, a Pakistani flag and jihadi literature.

Months before this, Jammu and Kashmir CID had termed Srinagar the jail as a hub for recruiting militants with inmates establishing a "parallel administrative set up". In a shocking revelation the CID report mentioned that the role of the jail is so important that every new militant is only recruited after ‘approval’ from inside the prison.

Immediately after Jatt’s escape, prisoners who fall in "higher and high risk" category were shifted secretly to various prisons in Jammu region including Udhampur, Kotbalwal and Hiranagar.

Jatt, who was allegedly involved in the killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari on 14 June 2018, was later killed in an encounter with security forces on November 28 in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.