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Jammers on their way, Tihar turns no-cellular jail

Tihar Jail inmates would soon get no signal even if they manage to have mobile phones sneaked in, against the law.

Written by Utkarshanand | New Delhi |
November 14, 2008 2:13:35 am

Tihar Jail inmates would soon get no signal even if they manage to have mobile phones sneaked in, against the law. Reason: jail officials have begun the process of putting up jammers in an attempt to beef up security inside the prison.

The move comes just about a year after noted criminal Sharafat Sheikh was found with two cellphones, purportedly running his drug racket from the confines of his jail cell.

The idea, Tihar Jail officials said, is to tighten security at Asia’s largest prison and stop use of cellphones within the prison. “The trial run for the jammers had been on for a few days. We will soon start the operation with installing equipment in four cells,” Director General (Prisons) B K Gupta said.

Calling it a “preventive measure,” he said the step would decrease the possibility of illegal use of mobile phones by inmates, either by possessing them or with the help of visitors. “We have always taken precautions to avert such incident and installation of jammers should be seen as a move to tighten security,” he said. It is meant to halt the flow of prohibited objects inside the jail.”

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As a pilot project, three of the four jammers would be installed at Jail numbers one, three and four of Tihar. These jails primarily house terrorists and noted criminals. The fourth jammer would be put up at Rohini Jail.

“We are committed to presenting Tihar as a model jail for other prisons,” Gupta said, “and jammers are being installed as part of the bigger exercise in which we had also installed as many as 259 CCTVs.”

Sunil Gupta, Tihar’s law officer, added, “This step was necessary, especially with frequent news from many states about inmates found with mobile phones. We do not want to land in any embarrassing situation.”

Tihar Jail officials were left in a spot when Sharafat Sheikh, the alleged drug lord, was found possessing two mobile phones, which he purportedly used to run his racket from inside the cell. Delhi Police’s narcotics department had intercepted calls made and received from Tihar in September last year. In searches that followed, two mobiles were found from Sheikh’s cell.

The move to install jammers will have no impact on security officers as no one — not even officials — is allowed to carry mobile phones inside the prison. Officials use only landline phones.

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