The lax security in jails is under scanner with recent episodes of prison breaks and murders of inmates, reports Vicky Nanjappa.
Indian Mujahideen terror suspect Mohammad Saif, who is lodged inside the Gujarat’s Sabarmati jail, sent handwritten letters to IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and two others in Pakistan.
On October 1, seven activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India escaped from a prison in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district; one was caught on the run.
In June, suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Mohammed Qateel Siddiqui was murdered in the high-security anda cell in Pune’s Yerwada jail by two fellow inmates.
In February, an 18-feet tunnel was found inside the Sabarmati Central Jail where 14 of the July 2008 Ahmedabad serial blast accused are presently lodged.
These shocking incidents put a big question mark on jail security in the country. The latest revelation -- letters written by Saif to Pakistan -- came to light during the interrogation of IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his accomplice Asadulla Akhtar by the National Investigation agency.
Saif was planning a jailbreak operation had allegedly written to IM”s Riyaz Bhatkal in Pakistan explaining the modus operandi. During his interrogation Akhtar revealed that he had learnt of the plan to escape from an associate of Riyaz in Nepal, said an NIA official.
According to the NIA, letters were also sent to two other key IM operatives Dr Shahnawaz and Sajid Bada. This is a clear indication that an elaborate plan was made to flee from prison and all the top IM men were kept in the loop.
The NIA official, however, pointed out that the matter is subject of investigation and the entire truth would be learnt only once they question Saif. Whether this is an attempt to embarrass jail authorities or is the truth is being speculated.
Two senior jail officers, one from Gujarat and one from Madhya Pradesh, admitted that security in jails need to be beefed up. It is shocking that letters written to Pakistan were not scrutinised.
“Jail staff have a lacklustre approach. However, what they must realise is that these are hardcore terrorists. They can never afford to be lax or share any sort of personal rapport with them,” said the officers.
Investigations in the Madhya Pradesh jail break show that the SIMI men managed to escape with some insider help.
The murder of Siddiqui is still being investigated. Insiders say that the underworld is behind these killings. However, preliminary investigations do not rule out the possibility of an inside hand being involved in the murder case.
Image: An inmate sits in a bus outside Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad
Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters