Anticipating a large number of preventive arrests to maintain law and order ahead of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid verdict, the police and district administrations have started identifying colleges and government buildings that can be used as makeshift prisons in the neigbouring districts of Ayodhya.
So far, eight colleges in Ambedkar Nagar, and six colleges and government buildings in Barabanki have been selected. According to district officials of the two districts, a directive on makeshift prisons was issued to them by the government.
Principals have raised their concern that the decision may lead to delays in completing syllabus and possible closure of colleges.
“In view of the Ayodhya verdict, we have made all the preparations and divided the whole district in five zones and 18 sectors. Quick response teams have been formed at all the police stations with 12 check points,” Ambedkar Nagar SP Virendra Kumar Misra told media.
Ambedkar Nagar Additional SP Avanish Mishra further said that no permanent police teams would be deployed in the chosen colleges, and that the District Inspector Of School (DIOS) has asked the administration of these schools and colleges to be prepared for provide the college building immediately when required by the police.
“As we are the border district, where will we keep those caught for violating the preventive orders? These colleges can work as places where we will keep such detainees for some time before releasing or shifting them elsewhere,” said the ASP. He also said that similar arrangements were made in 2010 during the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.
Ambedkar Nagar DIOS Vinod Kumar Singh said that the district police had requested for schools and colleges. He, however, added that he did not how many police teams would be deployed or if colleges had to be shut.
According to a letter issued by the DIOS, five intermediate colleges and three degree colleges will serve as makeshift prisons. After getting a request from concerned police in-charge, the principals of these institutions had to ensure immediate availability of the buildings with electricity, water and other basic amenities, directed the letter.
Tej Pratap Verma, principal of Dr Ashok Smarak Degree College, which is one of the identified colleges, told The Indian Express that at a time when they were scrambling to complete the syllabus, classes as well as exams will be affected by this order.
“We were not consultant before this order was issued. We are yet to receive any letter on this. However, there are a lot of problems. We run morning classes. If people are to stay here, we will have to make arrangements. Studies will be affected and will certainly have to shut the college,” said the principal.
“We do not have enough rooms to reserve for makeshift prisons. But, we cannot do much when there is an administrative order. Practicals are scheduled in January and exams in February. Most of October passed in holidays and all we have is November and December to finish the syllabus. We do not know how long they will need the building,” he added.
Meanwhile, Barabanki SP Akash Tomar informed that they have identified six educational institutions and government guest houses for temporary prisons.
“Guidelines were issued by the state law and order department to identify places where we have to put barricades, sensitise places and communal hotspots and places where people can be sent when there is a preventive arrest,” said Tomar.
ADG (Prisons) Anand Kumar said in such cases, the district administration and police have the power to identify such places. “If such buildings are used for this purpose for a long time, they have to officially declared as a proper jail,” he said.
ADG Lucknow Satya Narain Sabat and IG of Ayodhya range Sajeev Gupta denied having any information on the decision.