DAYS AFTER an officer from Yerawada Central Prison was shot at outside the jail premises, the state Prison department has asked all jail officers to “carry their firearms”, while coming for ‘jail opening duty’ in the morning in order to avoid such incidents in future. In guidelines issued to jail officers across the state, the department has also asked them to carry “helmets, sticks or weapons and handcuffs all the time”.
Prison department officials have observed that most such attacks in the recent past took place at the time of “jail opening”, when the day’s routine in a jail begins. At least four assailants intercepted jail officer Mohan Patil (35) when he was going for “jail opening duty” on July 6 around 6.15 am and opened fire at him near the main gate of the prison. The bullet missed the officer.
Police later arrested five persons, including history-sheeter Nilesh Wadkar, who was earlier lodged in the prison and was out on bail. A probe found that Wadkar hatched the plan to eliminate Patil because of his strictness inside the jail. In a circular issued to jails across the state, Prison department head and additional director general of police Bhushankumar Upadhyay has said, “It has been observed that the attacks on jail officials have taken place at the time of ‘jail opening’. Like the incident outside the Yerawada jail, incidents have taken place at Kalyan and Taloja prisons. To avert such incidents in the future, a set of guidelines has been issued for jail staff across the state.”
According to the circular, “All the officers should carry their firearms while coming for ‘jail opening duty’. Jail staff should carry helmets, sticks or weapons and handcuffs all the time. While coming to jail, the officers and staffers should come in groups and avoid coming alone. At the time of ‘jail opening’, barricades should be put up at least 50 metres on each side between 6 am and 8 am. All the prison officers should examine whether the police guard teams provided to the jail are strong and equipped enough. If not, the issue should be immediately raised with the police authorities concerned in the coordination meeting. The internal security team of the jail should be kept on alert all the time.”
“From time to time, effort should be made to gather intelligence and senior officers should be kept informed. The armed guards of the jail main door should be checked for preparedness from time to time. It has been observed that the guards are alert only when officers come, not otherwise. There should be teamwork between officers and staff. Any incident between jail staff or officers and inmates should be reported and should never be kept to oneself. CCTV camera network should be monitored round the clock. Any unidentified person seen loitering around the jail should be inquired and reported,” it further states.
Maharashtra has nine central prisons, 31 district jails and 13 open jails — housing over 33,500 inmates, of which 23,601 are in the central prisons. Undertrial attacked An undertrial prisoner in judicial custody in a murder case was allegedly attacked with stones by three other undertrial prisoners inside the Yerawada Central Prison on Monday night. According to the complaint registered by jail officials, Vikas Malgunde, who was attacked around 8 pm outside Barrack No 1, was recently arrested for the murder of a history-sheeter in Baramati. The murdered criminal was the leader of a gang to which the three assailants belong.