This article has been authored by Mr.K.V.Reddy, President of All India Prison Officers Association. He is also the Vice Principal at State Institute of Correctional Administration, Hyderabad. We usually come across writings which call for the rights of the prisoners. But here Mr. Reddy presents a totally different picture depicting how prison officers are being terrorized. Read on..
Sri Bharat Bhushan, a Prison Officer working in Jodhpur Jail, Rajasthan was stabbed to death by a prisoner inside the Jail while he was on his duty on 18-09-2010.
This latest ghastly incident is only a tip of an ice berg. The problems being faced by Prison authorities within the Prison have become alarmingly dangerous and life threatening by each passing day.
About a decade ago, assaults on Prison Officers were unheard of. But in the recent times, they have become a regular feature. The jails were attacked by Naxals (Orissa,Chattisgarh etc.,), Mafia ( Maharashtra , Bihar , UP etc.,) and a Prison Officer in Tamilnadu was burnt alive inside Madras Central Prison by inmates. A Jailor in Andhra Pradesh was shot dead by Naxals while he was resting in his residence.
It is alarming to note that in recent times, Communalism is raising its ugly head in the Jails with the initiation and encouragement by detained ISI elements / ISI sympathizers / Muslim fanatics. Few years ago, a Jailor in Central Prison, Hyderabad was shoed and beaten by Muslim prisoner resulting in bleeding injuries to the Jailor on the pretext that he has touched Quran during the course of searches though he was standing far away from the Quran. The Officer was targeted because he was very strict and disciplined and was firm in his duties. The prisoner was allowed to go scot-free by the timid Senior Prison Officers who feared communal reprisal should any action is taken on the criminal prisoner. This has lead to a fall in the morale of all Prison Officers in the State and adversely boosted the confidence of communal elements in the Jails of Andhra Pradesh.
In a recent incident, it was alleged that a Muslim prisoner was beaten up by Prison authorities of Jaipur Central Jail and also the Holy Quran was “desecrated”. This allegation was made by a Muslim organization which claimed to have visited the Jaipur Central Prison to ascertain the facts.
Prisons Rules, all over India, does not allow any communal organizations to visit prisons without the explicit orders of the Government or Director General of Prisons. It was further alleged by the same organization that Prison officials did not allow Muslim prisoners to congregate with other prisoners on the eve of Id-ul-Fitr. It is alleged that “the Jailor bluntly denied them of their right”. Prison Rules does not allow any congregations in the name of caste, creed or religion in the interest of Jail security and prisoners do not have any right for congregation as per Prisons Rules.
All these allegations are made with intentions to black mail and threaten the Prison Officers. Basing on these allegations, one officer was suspended and another was transferred. Such hasty action against Officers will send wrong signals to Prison staff while giving the communal forces extra strength to carry on with their ugly designs against the Prison Officers. These communal forces will slowly and steadily destabilize, demoralize and weaken the integrity of Prison Officials with their blackmail and terrorizing tactics.
The Print and Electronic media is always on the look out to make matters worse by adding communal color, violation of human rights twist and propagate it round the clock to defame the individuals working in the Prisons. It is also observed that these communal forces knock the doors of Judiciary with false accusations on Prison Officers alleging brutality and demanding money etc. These sort of tactics will leave a scary feeling on the psyche of the Officer. It is therefore, very essential to check the activity of these communal forces inside the Prison with a firm hand to protect not only the Prison Officers but Society at large.
The Prison Officers today are working in very hostile and highly adverse conditions. There is no guarantee for their life either inside the Prison or outside the Prison. No steps are taken by the Government to ensure their safety and security.
Almost all the Prisons are understaffed and residential quarters are devoid of any security. It is shocking to note that even senior Prison Officers are not provided with fire arms for self defense. No Sentry Pickets are available at vulnerable points such as the residences of Staff or Officers or outer entrance gates etc. Prison Staff are most neglected personnel and least important in the Government Sector.
While Governments and some Agencies plan and implement several programs for inmates, institutional training to them and their rehabilitation, no efforts are made to redress the problems being faced by the Prison Staff.
In all major Central Jails across our Nation, majority of the staff work under severe stress and testing conditions. In these Prisons, some notorious prisoners yield so much power and influence that no Prison staff dare act against their ill deeds. Should any Prison staff dare against them, they will be immediately victimized both by the inmates and media. This has become a very dangerous trend in Prison administration.
Unless some serious and upright stand is taken by appropriate Governments, the Prisons will be bad places very soon, both for Prison Staff and Society as well.