Observers say that breakout of riots in the prison is a sad reflection of the deteriorating law & order situation in West Bengal.
- Suman Bhattacharyya
In the wake of the corona scare, on Friday, 20 March, the Prisons Department of the West Bengal state government decided to stop the visits of outsiders for under trials detained at Dum Dum Central Jail. There was a lot of resentment among the inmates regarding the decision. The undertrials at Dum Dum Correctional Home are housed mostly in Ward number 1 of the Home from where the chaos flared on saturday.
The inmates started their protest from Saturday morning and submitted a deputation to the jail superintendent when he personally went to meet them. They demanded release on parole like the convicts. It deserves to be mentioned here that the convicts in the Home were not barred from meeting their visitors. The convicts are housed in another ward of the jail and they did not participate in the protest demonstrations.
The arguments soon led to confrontation and the undertrials have alleged that the Jail Police and RAF started indiscriminate lathi charge on the protesters. This led to further agitation and the prisoners burst out in protest. Many tried to break free from the bars, many were seen with dangerous weapons like axes and daggers. At one point of time, the prisoners set the ward on fire, for which several fire engines had to be sent.
The prisoners have alleged that the Jail police had opened fire on them, leading to the death of one inmate. Five other people suffered bullet injuries and nine injured had to be carried to the hospital.
The news of the death has been confirmed by a senior officer of the Barrackpore Commissionerate.
While the matter has not been resolved yet, it is reported that the inmates have carried a gas cylinder into the ward and have threatened to blow up the entire ward if their demands were not redressed. On the other hand, protests have stirred up in a few other correctional homes in the state, including the Presidency Central Jail.
These incidents of the breakdown of law and order right inside the correctional homes in West Bengal point to the lawlessness and anarchy in the state