Seven wardens of the Central Prison in Puducherry were suspended on Wednesday for allegedly selling mobile phones to the inmates. This came to light after an under-trial prisoner made a hoax bomb threat call from the prison.
Inspector General of Prisons Pankaj Kumar Jha ordered the suspension of the wardens, police sources said.
The action was taken after 11 mobile phones were seized from the under-trial prisoners yard during extensive checks conducted after an anonymous bomb threat call made to the police control room was traced to an inmate.
On January 19, Nitish Sharma, an under-trial prisoner arrested in connection with a car theft case, had called the control room in the Union Territory and said explosives would go off at the Raj Nivas and also at the local railway station in the next 24 hours.
A case was registered against Sharma and an inquiry was ordered to find out how he got access to the mobile phone in the prison.
Subsequently, the police conducted extensive checks in the central prison at Kalapet and seized 11 mobile phones. They also found Sharma had used one of the phones.
Police sources said it was found that the mobile phones were 'sold' to the inmates by some of the jail warders who were identified on Tuesday and suspended.
Further investigations were on, they added.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday held a meeting with the officials of the Police and Jail departments and directed them to keep a strict vigil on the security and other aspects of the Central Prison to ensure that there was no room for any lapse, official sources said.
The discovery of phones in the possession of inmates has become commonplace in prisons across Tamil Nadu as well. Photographs have emerged in the past of Puzhal central jail inmates enjoying extravagant lifestyles and allegedly even taking selfies in prison, forcing police to conduct raids in prisons across the state.
In 2017, prison authorities had even recovered two cell phones, three sim cards and a charger from the cell of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Murugan. They were allegedly hidden behind the pictures of deities in his cell. The electronics were handed over to the cyber cell, who were supposed to identify who the convict was contacting. In 2010, mobile phones had been seized from the prison cell of Murugan's wife Nalini Sriharan as well. She is serving her jail term in the Special Prison for Women in Vellore.