THE 26 prison officials from four prisons who were “caught on camera” allegedly accepting bribes may get away with only departmental action as several of them are not seen in the video ‘demanding money’ but accepting it when ‘offered’. Sources in the prison department said while there is no doubt that accepting money was a serious violation, in several clippings the complainant Amit Mishra is seen ‘offering money’. So far, eight prison staff have been suspended and a probe against 18 others is on, the prison department confirmed.
Amit Mishra, a student, stated that having had a bad experience with prison officials, he had carried out a sting operation at four prisons including Arthur Road, Thane, Kalyan and Taloja prisons earlier this year. He said he had caught nearly 26 prison guards accepting bribes for favours, filmed on a hidden camera. Once the video was made public, Inspector General Rajwardhan Sinha began an enquiry in the case after issuing show cause notices to the guards seen in the footage.
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A senior prison official said, “Based on prima facie enqiry, we have suspended eight policemen attached to Arthur Road and Thane prisons. Enquiry into such corruption at Kalyan and Taloja prison is still underway.” The officer added, “However, if you see the tapes, the complainant (Mishra) is seen offering money to the prison officials which they have accepted. They fell prey to the ploy. Had there been a demand from their side and then money paid, the Anti-Corruption Bureau could have been involved in the matter. Of course they are wrong in accepting money, but in this case, since there is no demand, they will be facing department action after our probe is over.”
Mishra said, “All the videos are separate. While in some cases, they are seen accepting cash, in several videos they are also seen demanding money from me. I am waiting to see what action will be taken by the prison department after which I will decide on what course of action I will take.”