Mangaluru, Sept 25, 2016: According to report, it is indeed an eye opener not only regarding the Mangaluru prison but also about prisons and those serving in them in general. It is detailed that as per As per rules, four persons should guard the four corners of a prison. Accordingly, there is a need for 12 persons to guard the 4 corners of 3 sections; going by the 3 shifts, the prison requires 36 staff, just to guard the corners of the prison. The present strength, in contrast, is less than 25 staff members, who have a multitude of many duties to perform - right from managing / frisking the visitors to handling the prisoners. As of now, one person has to manage more than 100 prisoners in each section, which is unthinkable, as they are under constant fear of attack from the prisoners.
"The kind of abuse the prisoners hurl at staff members and the fear factor is unbearable," said a staff member, who went on to add, "Recently, I had to retrieve a mobile phone in a plastic bag and hidden in the commode amidst excreta but I didn’t mind. The prisoners’ abuse at that point of time, however, was more painful."
"Right from our sisters, wives, daughters and mothers, the prisoners spare none and we don’t have any option but to silently listen to them in pain," said another staff member, who did not wished to be quoted. "I wish I am suspended on some charge, so that I can get some relief from the mental agony and torture that I and my colleagues undergo everyday," he said and almost all other staff members supported his view.
One guard said that he has 34 years of service in nine jails of Karnataka and seen some notorious rowdies and underworld dons, but never seen prisoners like in Mangaluru opines a senior staff at the district prison in Mangaluru.Another said "I have put in 22 years of service in five different prisons in Karnataka, but the prison in Mangaluru is the worst," Perhaps that sums up the miserable and pathetic condition of the staff in Mangaluru prison, which is repeatedly in news for wrong reasons. It is perhaps the only prison in India where inmates are lodged based on their religion. While Hindus are lodged in one section of the prison, the Muslims are lodged in another. The very sight of a prisoner belonging to one religion by a prisoner belonging to another religion is enough for communal clashes or sometimes group clashes to flare up inside the prison.
"We are no lesser than the soldiers who are guarding the LoC at Siachen, who never know when the enemy will attack," said yet another staff member, who added that most of the staff members inside the prison are constantly under the threat of attack from the prisoners. "We get life threats from the prisoners almost every time enter the cells," said a staff and added that it is a Herculean task to send the prisoners inside their cells.
"What can 20 to 22 prison staff do inside a prison that has more than 400 to 450 prisoners on an average," questions District Prison Superintendent stressing the need for more than 50 staff to guard 3 prisons - new prison, old prison and women’s section - he said that the existing staff is based on the prison population of 1904 set up by the British. Apparently, the guidelines were never upgraded in the last 112 years.
Listing out the flaws in the prison structure, sources said that, unlike other prisons, there is no check point at the entry of prison, which helps some visitors smuggle mobile phones, SIM cards, drugs and liquor among other banned goods. It may be mentioned here that, recently, 29 mobile phones were seized in a surprise raid. Subsequently, women were caught smuggling ganja and SIM cards in their inner wear.
The failure of the officials concerned to start a video conference too is a setback. Although the facility was installed on July 15, it was never used. It developed technical snag on July 19 and is yet to be repaired, informed sources. Lack of the District Armed Reserve (DAR) personnel to take prisoners to court or hospital is also a cause for concern. There are instances when the superintendent himself drives a prisoner to hospital, which never happens in any other prison, said another personnel. It is high time that the Govt looks into the matter and sorts things out before very serious consequences happen.