Tension continued to brew in Dumdum Central Jail here on Sunday, a day after almost a dozen people, including prison officials, were injured as prisoners rioted allegedly because of restrictions imposed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to prison officials, the inmates refused to go to their cells in the evening, and kept demanding that some of them be released on parole, and people facing trials be granted bail. They also asked the authorities to provide them masks.
Additional Director General (Jail) Piyush Pandey, and Deputy Inspector General of Correctional Services (Dum Dum) Arindam Sarkar tried to talk to the prisoners but failed to convince them.
After dialogue stalled, the inmates started throwing stones at the police and Rapid Action Force personnel posted there since Saturday. The prisoners also set fire to gas cylinders. The security personnel beat the protesters with batons, and brought the situation under control in 45 minutes.
The prison authorities, meanwhile, started welding the iron locks of wards and cells that were broken in the violence on Saturday. Lights in the premises are also being fixed.
According to unofficial sources, and a human rights organisation, four inmates may have died in Saturday’s violence. However, the state government refused to confirm the toll.
“Some people have died,” said Ujjwal Biswas, the minister in charge of the Department of Correctional Administration. “I am not sure about the number, which may be one or two. We are waiting for the police report. We have seen visuals of inmates roaming around with handguns. So how they died is to be probed. It is to be probed who instigated the inmates. There is a conspiracy behind this.”
Sources said two more prisoners were in critical condition at RG Kar Hospital. “I am not in a position to comment,” said Barrackpore Commissioner of Police Manoj Verma. Additional Director General (CID) Siddhinath Gupta said questions should be directed to the commissioner.
NGO Association of Protection of Democratic Rights’ member Ranjit Sur demanded an inquiry into the violence. “There should be proper counseling, and steps taken inside the crowded jails,” he added.
Meanwhile, security was also stepped at Presidency Central Jail after its inmates ransacked the kitchen on Saturday night.
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