OVER-CROWDING HITS CENTRAL JAIL SRINAGAR

Sanctioned Capacity 300, Inmates 530

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Dec 4: Signifying messy state of affairs in the Central Jail here, the highly fortified prison is massively overcrowded causing immense inconvenience to the prisoners lodged there. Against the sanctioned capacity of 300, the jail is presently housing 530 inmates.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the overcrowding has badly affected proper management of inmates in the jail.
“When nearly double the capacity prisoners are lodged in the jail how can they get adequate space besides proper food and medicare,” they said.
Officials wishing anonymity said one of the main reasons for overcrowding in the jail was inordinate delay by police in producing the prisoners before respective courts for trial.
“Over 50 percent of the prisoners lodged in the jail hail from other districts of the Valley. In absence of police escort, their trial gets delayed prolonging their detention. On an average, daily one to two persons are lodged at Central Jail here. Gradually, this has led to overcrowding,” they said.
The problem has been compounded due to absence of jails in South and Central Kashmir. Ironically, despite recommendation by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the jail authorities have failed to take measures to check overcrowding.
During his visit to the Central Jail Srinagar last year, the then Chairperson of SHRC Justice (Retd) Bashir-ud-Din had expressed strong resentment over lodging of 488 prisoners against the capacity of 300. In his comprehensive report, Justice Bashir-ud-Din had stated that on paper the jail comprises of 150 kanals of land. “But there are just 17 barracks. There is no information on construction works and renovations of the existing structures. With regard to the topography of the site, there is little scope for any further construction on the spot. The problem of overcrowding is expected to continue.”
“The jail was abounded with private residential houses and other property. An impression is given that over a period of time it many turn into a Mohalla jail due to topographical and locational features. It would be worthwhile, on available expert opinion, to consider either shifting of the jail to some other location within the city or go for further construction which is feasible, safe and technically sound,” the report stated.
The issue of overcrowding in the Central Jail Srinagar was also recently dealt by the SHRC. The Commission had taken suo-moto cognizance of condition of prisoners in the jail. “Ways and means need to found to reduce or minimize over-crowding in the jail. Measures at management level, avoidance of avoidable delays, expeditious disposal of cases, inter-jail transfer of prisoners and inmates can be some of the ways to tackle overcrowding problems,” the Division Bench of SHRC with Justice Javid Ahmad Kawoos as member recommended in its judgment.
Advocate Mir Shafaqat Hussain, who pleads cases of many under-trials in the Central Jail Srinagar, said overcrowding affects the detainees’ psyche.
“Alleged criminals who are facing trial in different cases like narcotic trade, murder, rape and dacoity should not be kept with detainees who are involved in militancy related cases or stone pelting. This is sheer violation of the Jail Manual,” he said. Shafaqat said by virtue of the Supreme Court ruling in AK Roy v/s Union of India, the detainees must be kept at nearest jail to their lodgment. “Prisoners from other districts mainly Shopian, Islamabad and Budgam have been lodged at Central Jail here. It is high time for construction of jails in all districts in the State,” he added.
Pertinently, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had earlier this year admitted overcrowding in the Valley jails. "Kashmir-based jails are already overcrowded and additional lodging would affect the administration, including the maintenance of discipline of these jails," CM had stated in reply to a cut-motion moved by PDP MLA Nizam-ud-Din Bhat in the Assembly.
In Baramulla jail, 125 prisoners are presently lodged against the sanctioned capacity of 100.
Presently there are 13 jails in the State which include two Central Jails at Kotbalwal and Srinagar. Besides there are nine district jails at Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch, Baramulla, Kupwara and Leh and three sub-Jails at Hiranagar, Reasi, Kishtwar. The total capacity for prisoners in these jails is 2775.
The Director General of Prisons J&K, Navin Aggarwal acknowledged overcrowding in the Central Jail. “We are aware of the problem and have devised a comprehensive plan to construct jails at Pulwama, Anantnag (Islamabad), Kishtwar, Kargil and Bhaderwah to check overcrowding in the jail. Anantnag jail is nearing completion and will be commissioned soon,” Aggarwal told Greater Kashmir.
Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, Dr Muhammad Sultan Lone, said a proposal has been submitted to the Government for shifting the Central Jail Srinagar to Zewan. “The proposal is under Government’s consideration. Our endeavor is to reform the prisoners into dignified civilians. We are laying no stone unturned to enhance the capacity in the jails in the state,” he said.
The Superintendent, Central Jail Srinagar, Dinesh Sharma admitted that 530 prisoners are presently lodged there. “However, we provide them with every facility according to the Jail Manual. But facilitating the visit of prisoners to face trial in courts is the job of police of concerned districts,” he said.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 5 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST




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