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Let out during Covid, 2,500 Delhi jail inmates fail to surrender

Police said the tracking of the criminal has become “stressful” as many of the inmates went on to commit crimes again or fled to other states.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: July 18, 2021 10:27:21 am
Outside Tihar Jail

Even as the Delhi Prisons department continues to release thousands of inmates to decongest jails, at least 2,400 inmates who were released last year to prevent Covid cases during the pandemic have failed to surrender.

The department has now contacted Delhi Police to trace 2,490 inmates and ask them to surrender again. Police said the tracking of the criminal has become “stressful” as many of the inmates went on to commit crimes again or fled to other states.

According to data shared by the Delhi Prisons, a total of 6,740 inmates were released on emergency parole and interim bail last year from the three jails – Tihar, Mandoli, and Rohini.

Sandeep Goel, Director General (Delhi Prisons) said, “ The decongestion process was started by the end week of March last year. As many as 5,556 undertrials were released on interim bail while 1,184 convicts were released on emergency parole. This year in February, they were asked by the court to surrender but we have come to know that 2,490 inmates haven’t reported back.”

The Delhi police are now tasked to trace the inmates. A DCP-level officer from Police Headquarters said, “ We had opposed the release of the inmates last year and this year as well. Many of these criminals have joined local gangs and committing crimes again. There’s a spurt in street crimes and while our patrolling teams and crime teams are arresting these criminals, the release of more inmates means trouble for us,” said the officer.

This year, the department released over 3,800 inmates (3,000 undertrials and 800 convicts) starting from May. This was done after the prisons were overcrowded and more than 400 inmates and 215 staff members were infected with Covid. A High-Powered Committee was set up by the court and inmates were released starting from May.

At present, there are zero Covid cases in three jails and the department has also initiated a vaccination drive for the inmates and officers.

Meanwhile, officers at Delhi Prisons said the decision taken to release inmates was taken by the court.

“ Last year, the Supreme Court decided to decongest the jails which led to inmates getting interim bails easily. There were no regular bails this time since the lawyers too suggested interim bails for their clients during the pandemic. Many of the inmates fit the criteria and were released. Although this was unusual, we think that even without the pandemic, these inmates would have gotten out on regular bail after some time” said an officer.

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