MAYA BHARGAV & SNEHA THAKUR
This year, Tihar Jail has recorded a total of 36 deaths against 18 last year, including suicides, those due to medical lapses and natural causes.
In an effort to bring down the suicide rate within its premises, the Tihar authorities have begun an initiative to take care of prisoners who are suffering from depression.
Under this initiative ‘Gumsum Panja’, psychiatrists are called in to counsel prisoners who show signs of depression.
“Psychiatrists visit the jail in batches of four to five and identify prisoners who appear depressed. These are mostly those who are new to the environment. The doctor advise prisoners on various issues, listen to their problems, help them make friends inside the prison and get them used to the jail’s environment. A case study on each prisoner is prepared at the end of a session,” PRO of Tihar Jail Sunil Gupta said.
Speaking about the deaths inside Tihar, Director General (Prisons) Vimla Mehra said if the staff are on a strict watch and prisoners are counselled at regular intervals, the death toll can be brought down. Mehra said the main problem in ensuring a strict vigil is lack of adequate staff. At present, the jail is short staffed by 30 per cent — over 17 officers under suspension and 58 are facing department enquiries.
In order to curb cases of medical negligence, Tihar authorities have also started to hold meeting with hospitals where prisoners are referred to, she said.
Behind the bars
Old age ward: An old age ward with hospital facilities has been set up. Inmates from all the jails, who are above 60 years, will be moved here
Nav Graha park: A park with nine plants, each representing a planet or “graha” in accordance with the horoscope, is coming up at Tihar. This project is supported by Pedh Panchayat , a Delhi-based NGO.
Gaushala: Started in October last year , the cattle shed has with six cows. The milk products are used in the Tihar kitchens.
More revenue: The jail factory at Central Jail Number 2 achieved a record annual turnover of Rs 32.17 crore during the year 2012-13 against the turnover of Rs 12 crore the previous year.
(Reporters are students of EXIMS, Delhi)