October 10, 2021 3:30:05 am
In Odisha, inmates in two central jails can now see and speak to their visitors during mulaqat hours as they speak over an intercom, separated by two glass barriers. The facility was inaugurated on October 2.
Santosh Upadhayay is a DG (Prisons) in Odisha.
What prompted this initiative?
Around 20-30 jails in Odisha are from the pre-Independence era. At that point, prisoners were deliberately separated from relatives to avoid eye contact. But the new manual, enforced last year, prescribes toughened glass or two iron grille meshes so that there is visibility of up to 80 per cent… We have 15 intercoms in Bhubaneswar jail and 15 in Berhampur for this facility.
Did you seek inputs from other states which have implemented this?
No, but there is an all-India DG Prisons conference soon, where we will discuss the best practices of jails across the country.
How do you think this initiative helps prisoners?
Prisoners often suffer mentally and psychologically because of the delay in trials, release etc. These problems were aggravated during the pandemic, but we started an E-mulaqat. These physical meetings, where they can see their family members, advocates etc will help them feel better, mentally and emotionally, and will also help their overall health.
How has the response been?
It has been phenomenal. It gives a sense of satisfaction to the prisoners as well as family members… There is a feel-good factor.
Are there extra security arrangements?
No extra security arrangements have been made. There will be the usual security staff to keep a watch. Also, we will ensure that only three people at a time are allowed to meet a prisoner.
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