Drug addiction to overcrowding: Report paints damning picture of B’luru Central Prison

The Vinay Kumar report, which was under wraps till recently, was submitted to the state Chief Secretary in Oct 2017, but no significant changes were undertaken.
Drug addiction to overcrowding: Report paints damning picture of B’luru Central Prison
Drug addiction to overcrowding: Report paints damning picture of B’luru Central Prison

The Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru, which houses both convicted criminals and undertrials, is overcrowded by 44% beyond its capacity and is functioning with just 46% of its sanctioned staff strength. None of the 19 jammers installed in the prison have been functional over the past year.

This cramping of prisoners is way over the 114.4% average occupancy of jails across India as documented in the 2015 Prison Statistics India compiled by the Union Home Ministry. Similarly, according to the 2015 figures, prisons across India were understaffed by 36%.

These are some of the underlining findings of the Vinay Kumar Commission report, which has given credence to the allegations of IPS officer D Roopa and also highlighted pressing issues at Bengaluru’s Central Prison.  

The staff shortage is so acute that the prison management is forced to take help of the prisoners themselves for its daily functioning, thereby compromising security.

The report was submitted to the state Chief Secretary in October, 2017 by the Commission, as demanded by the state government. But TNM has reliably learnt that there have been no significant changes undertaken by the state’s prison department. In fact, the number of prisoners lodged in the jail has only increased.

In its report, the Commission had found that 4,367 prisoners were housed when the authorised capacity was only 3,016. In June, 2018 the number of inmates had increased to 4,650 without any addition in resources.

The Commission noted, “With nearly 61% vacancy in the level of warders, the Prison management has tended to use the services of convicts themselves. Statements of witnesses recorded in the course of the inquiry have themselves raised the issue of security compromise due to a shortage of wardens, in the context of incidents like the attack on the Chief Medical Officer and misbehaviour of another prisoner with a female nurse. The staff position of the Prison Hospital is not much better. It works with 55% of the sanctioned strength.”

The report, which was under wraps until recently, has pointed to many other discrepancies prevalent in the country’s correctional system, which is not limited to Karnataka alone.

Another startling discovery of the Commission, which has been documented in the report, includes an admission of the then Chief Superintendent of the Prison that close to 80% of the prisoners are addicted to ganja.

The report said, “Incidence of drug abuse appears to be very high. 18 out of 25 prisoners, who were given the urine test, have tested positive for drug dependence. The then Chief Superintendent himself said that nearly 80% prisoners are addicted to ganja. According to him, it is smuggled into the prison by prisoners returning from parole and also by visitors of undertrial prisoners.”

The Commission also noted that the prison lacked “professional consideration” in terms of threat perception for high-profile prisoners like VK Sasikala. In this instance, the prison officials did not follow the Model Prison 2016 Manual brought out by the Union Government which suggests the involvement of the local intelligence branch to gather intelligence within the prison. The Commission observed, “In order to position appropriate security measures, the prison authorities would first need assessment of an expert intelligence agency as to the nature and source of the threat. lf such assessment is not available, the arrangements may tend to be excessive and subjective.”

The Commission recommended that the Karnataka Prison Manual, which was last revised in 1978 and is in the process of a rejig, be done in congruence with the technological advancements in recent years.

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