- The general public believes that jails are safe, secure, and designed to provide convicts with not only an opportunity to reform themselves for the crimes they committed but also to make them repent for acts of omission and commission that are unacceptable in the eyes of the law of the land. Of course, the majority of us get shivers just thinking about the police and prisons. Because of the stories and aura surrounding the jails, nine out of ten people view the subject with trepidation, apprehension, and an uneasy feeling. Citizens cannot be blamed for cultivating and nurturing a completely different perception of law enforcement agencies and jails. There are numerous examples to back this up.
- Now, jails are as safe as they can be for ordinary citizens, and the entrusted staff are as good as anyone in the security setup at ensuring the jail manual is followed to the letter with absolute diligence. However, there has been sporadic reporting of how several jails across the country have become havens for incarcerated criminals to form an unholy alliance with the authorities to carry out their nefarious activities. Of course, jailbreaks involving hardened criminals make headlines as well. Underhanded dealing between criminals and jail authorities is almost always discovered later. There are no surprises here. As a result, while the Delhi High Court’s criticism of Tihar is strong, it is unlikely to change anything on the ground.
- It is worth noting that the ease with which some inmates killed a jailed gangster, Tillu Tajpuriya, in full CCTV view is neither the first nor the last of its kind. There were no prison officers visible as the assailants approached their victim, nor were there any in the victim’s cell, which was allegedly guarded by six cops. Another CCTV video shows police standing by as a second attack on the critically injured Tajpuriya begins. And this murder occurred just weeks after gangster Prince Tewatia was killed in a gang war within Tihar. Tihar is notorious for some of its staff secretly working for inmates with connections. A conman claimed prison staff was a conduit for a jailed minister’s demand for money months ago.
- Last year, while hearing a graft case, the Supreme Court chastised Tihar authorities for conspiring with inmates to violate the jail manual and obfuscate the investigation. The courts have chastised the GOI and the Delhi government for failing to take responsibility for prison security. This latest outrage should undoubtedly cause all stakeholders to reconsider the multiplicity of authority. Criminals will run the jail if no one is held accountable for Tihar. Prisons are a matter of state. Custodial duties are handled by Delhi police while patrolling, perimeter security, and searches are handled by Tamil Nadu Special Police, ITBP, and CRPF. Suspending a few police officers will not help solve the Tihar rot. More must be done to prevent this unholy nexus from forming.