Asia's largest prison it has housed high profile prisoners, but since the past couple of years, it has been in the news for every possible wrong reason.
Gang wars have become the order of the day within Tihar jail. The rampant use of mobile phones, overcrowding and extortion rackets have become a daily occurrence within this jail which was once upon a time referred to as Tihar Ashram.
Death toll rising:
This year alone around 21 deaths have been reported from the Tihar jail. Most of the deaths have been mysterious in nature and has raised several key questions regarding the security of prisoners within the jail premises. Gang wars have erupted within the premises thus raising the pertinent question relating to the security measures in the prison.
In the year 2014, there were 25 deaths reported from the Tihar jail. Most of these incidents were a result of gang wars and surprisingly the deaths were caused due to blade attacks. Investigations had shown that these incidents were extensions of the gang wars that these prisoners had started when they were out of jail.
Rivalry continues within the jail premises and gangs have found it easier to prey on their targets within the jail premises. Of the 25 deaths that were reported in 2014, 7 were caused by blade attacks, investigations had revealed. The statistics available for 2012 would show that 18 deaths had occurred within the Tihar jail premises.
The deaths have led to heads rolling within the Tihar establishment. Nearly 30 staff have been suspended following the violent spate of deaths that have occurred within the jail premises. However the rise in the number of deaths since 2012 have only indicated that not much has been done to prevent such occurrences.
Officials tell OneIndia that there are a host of issues which the Tihar jail faces. Corruption is one major issue. As a result of this, some of the staff ensure that blades are supplied to prisoners which are in turn used to carry out gang wars within the jail premises. The use of mobile phones too is extremely rampant within the jail premises. This once again is supplied by the staff to the prisoners and this shows the extent of corruption within the premises.
Health and hygiene:
The Tihar jail has also been rocked by various health and hygiene related issues. 340 prisoners were tested positive for HIV in the year 2011. Taken aback by the revelations, the authorities ensured that regular medical check ups were undertaken. By 2014, the number of HIV related cases were brought down to 78.
Health related issues were very high in the Tihar jail with authorities constantly complaining about the lack of support staff. Sweepers are in shortage within the jail premises and around 30 posts lie vacant. The jail requires at least 90 sweepers to ensure that the premises is clean. Until last year there were around 373 posts in various other facilities which were lying vacant.
The jail authorities have struggled to fill up these vacancies. Many are not ready to work within the jail premises and despite offering lucrative pay packages, the problem persists.
More than what the jail can handle:
Health and vacancy related issues are directly linked to the problem of overcrowding within the jail premises. As opposed to a sanctioned strength of 6,200 prisoners, the jail houses nearly 14,000 prisoners today. This has led to a huge crisis within the jail and the prison staff-prisoner ratio is not just matching. It becomes extremely difficult to man the prisoners as a result of which the security is extremely poor and this has resulted in gang wars leading to deaths.
Where this issue is concerned it would not be entirely right to blame the jail staff for it. The courts too are to be blamed. They fix surety amounts of Rs 6,000 for even small time offenders and unable to get anyone to stand surety, these prisoners continue to languish in jail.
The pace of the trials are extremely slow. Those who have committed offences which would mandate a 6 month jail term continue to languish in jail for over a year. This also leads to overcrowding which has only contributed to already long list of problems.
The Tihar jail has been host to several high profile prisoners. A high profile prisoner needs additional security. Moreover Delhi being the capital of the country witnesses the most number of protests also.
Most of the protesters are jailed and lodged in the Tihar jail which only adds to the security woes of the jail authorities. Security is automatically diverted towards the high profile prisoners. There is easily a need for at least 150 more security staff in Tihar, an officer informs.