Days after the controversial photographs from the Puzhal Central Prison in Tamil Nadu went viral, sparking allegations of prisoners receiving special treatment in the correctional facility, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons), Ashutosh Shukla has dismissed the claims.
A news report by Tamil newspaper Dinamani published pictures of prisoners inside the Puzhal Central Prison. The inmates are seen in boxer shorts and t-shirts, holding mobile phones, wearing branded shoes and sitting on cosy beds. One photo even showed a table full of home-made food in casseroles for the inmates.
Speaking to TNM, Shukla said that the leaked pictures were from the Class-A ward of the prison, where prisoners are allowed access to certain facilities. However, he admitted to irregularities in the usage of cellphones and said an investigation was underway.
“I want to clarify that photographs of beds and mattresses are from Class A prisoners. They are permitted to use such facilities. There are no irregularities in this. But, the use of cell phones is not allowed. Seven phones have been seized this month. We have launched an inquiry into this and . will take strict action against the people who are responsible for smuggling the cell phones inside. The Chennai police have registered a criminal case for the smuggling of these phones.”
The officer also said that some prisoners were found charging their cellphones with the help of television sets installed in the prison, which are meant for recreational purposes of the inmates. These television sets have since been removed, albeit temporarily.
“The television sets belong to the prison. It is available in all blocks of the prison. We are studying on how to install the television in a way that doesn’t allow charging of cell phones,” he said.
Admitting to the laxity of the staff, the prisons chief says that it if not the first time illegal items have been brought inside the prison. “Around 10 days ago, we found that ganja had been smuggled into the prison. A case was registered and the person concerned was also arrested. It is a continuous process of vigilance. If connivance is found, we will take strict action.”
In response to the photographs of inmates in ‘plain clothes’ and shoes, the officer says, “The inmates are expected to be in prison uniform only when they work. At other times, they can wear the clothes they have. They are permitted to keep certain items and personal belongings.”
He also adds, “Beds and mattresses are not provided to every inmate. At the time of conviction, if they ask for A Class facilities and the magistrate orders it, only then do we provide them with such facilities. It is given per the orders of the court.”