Brawls between prison inmates earlier too, but now the level of indiscipline has increased leading to deadly attacks, primarily due to incompetent officers, untrained personnel and government indifference, a former official said on Friday, after two gang members were killed inside Tihar Jail.

“The current situation shows that the (jail) administration is heading towards decline and unless drastic changes are made to the staff structure and overall functioning of the jail, such cases are here to stay,” former Delhi Prisons Department public relations officer Sunil Gupta told PTI.

Gupta, now a writer and expert on prison management, advocated a training school for prison staff and the appointment of uniformed officers, rather than civilian officers, to higher positions.

Gangster Tellu Tajpuria was hacked to death by four members of rival gangs inside Tihar Jail early Tuesday.

Tajpuria’s grisly murder – stabbed “92 times” using improvised weapons cut from an iron grid – came less than a month after another gangster, Prince Tewatia, was murdered inside the maximum security prison by members of a rival gang.

In an interview with PTI, Gupta said, “While neglect has always existed, one of the most pressing problems which, in my opinion, has led to the current situation is the secondment of incompetent officers into command posts. What Tihar needs now are young and energetic officers.” The prison staff are civil service officers of Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar.Instead of new recruits, the DANICS staff are delegated for promotion, which leads to mismanagement as they do not have the necessary competence and experience to handle prison affairs and there is also a lack of coordination among the staff.”

Kiran Bedi, the former general manager of Tihar, said that gangsters should be kept alone in a cell and have different visiting hours than other prisoners.

Gupta said that if members of rival gangs were kept in the same cell or barracks, friction was bound to occur.

To reduce prisoner fights, he said, inmates in cells and barracks should be searched every day and spot checks carried out under the supervision of senior officers.

“During my tenure, such controls were and still are the norm, but they should now be intensified. In case of negligence or complicity, responsibility must be assigned to the prison official concerned and administrative action must be taken. There is also no training center for prison staff to help them understand the rule of law.” and human rights of prisoners, and steps must be taken in this regard.”

Gupta, who has served as a legal officer and spokesperson in Tihar prison for nearly four decades, said it would be wrong to say such incidents did not happen in the past.

“During my tenure, there were fights too. Prisoner fights are common as prisons are known as the garbage dumps of a civilized society, but the level of indiscipline within Tihar has undoubtedly risen.”

Prisons have always been a low priority area as governments only plan to build hospitals or schools. Incidents like this are bound to happen unless more staff are deployed to prisons. He said if enough attention is not given to the prisons, especially in Tihar because they hold some of the most high-profile trials and convicts, things will go wrong.

“We must have proper staff training and we must set up a prison training school for new students and prison staff. Our staff is untrained and unprofessional and as a result such incidents occur.

“The most important position in the prison is the prison superintendent for which we need a united person, but interestingly in Delhi, these positions are occupied by allied civil service personnel. For the prison superintendent, we must have a paramilitary person.”

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is republished from a syndicated news agency feed.)


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