All is not well in Kerala's prisons

All is not well in Kerala's prisons

From jailbreaks by women to threatening calls being received by NRI businessmen from prisoners, all is not well with prisons in Kerala.

Close on the heels of the seizure of over a dozen smartphones and ganja packets from prison cells, a businessman in Qatar complained that he was threatened by a convict in a political murder case over the telephone. 

In another incident, two women prisoners escaped from a women's prison in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday afternoon. It is said to be for the first time that women prisoners are breaking out of prison in Kerala.  

Following criticism from the Opposition party, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had to admit in the state Assembly on Wednesday that undesirable activities were taking place in the prisons. The government also decided to entrust security duty of prisons to commando wing of the India Reserve Battalion unit in Kerala.

Over the last few weeks, raids were carried out as per the instruction of senior IPS officer Rishi Raj Singh, who recently took over as Director General of Prisons. About 15 smart mobile phones were seized, mainly from the central prisons in Kannur and Thrissur districts. Some of the phones were even recovered from those accused in a political murder case.

Close on the heels of that, Majeed, a native of Kozhikode district who is into the jewellery business in Qatar, complained that he received a threatening call from political murder case convict Kodi Suni, who is now serving his sentence. Majeed alleged that Suni wanted him to buy illegal gold.

While these issues brought to attention lapses in security at prisons, two women prisoners escaped from a women's prison in Thiruvananthapuram.  The two, identified as Shilpa, 23, and Sandhya, 26, jumped the prison wall by climbing a tree.

Prison department sources said that though CCTV cameras and mobile jammers were installed in some of the central prisons earlier, many were damaged by the prisoners themselves though crude means like depositing salt, so as to cause rusting.