New Delhi: India’s home ministry has asked the J&K government to build a high-security prison in Srinagar like the one at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to house convicted terrorists from Pakistan and those facing trial in terror cases, The Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday.
The separate, specialised prison is meant to confine terror convicts and undertrials away from ordinary prisoners as there are fears that they may indoctrinate and radicalise them.
The Telegraph newspaper quoted home ministry sources as saying that the decision to set up a separate prison in Srinagar was taken recently and it was communicated to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who agreed to it.
“The J&K government has agreed to the Centre’s proposal and asked for Rs 7 crore last month to build a separate jail exclusively for terrorists like the one in Guantanamo,” a source in the Union home ministry told The Telegraph newspaper.
The report came a day after a court in Kashmir’s Budgam criticised state police for the “extra-judicial detention” of separatist leader Masarat Alam and said a situation like “Abu Ghraib (the Iraqi prison where atrocities were committed by US soldiers) and Guantanamo cannot be tolerated in India.”
A senior home ministry official was quoted as saying that a report from security agencies had warned that terror convicts and suspects lodged in the jails in Jammu and Kashmir were a “big threat” even inside the jails as they could radicalise petty criminals.
“The security agencies had cited some examples where ordinary criminals joined terror outfits after being radicalised by terrorists inside jails,” the official said.
According to data with the Union home ministry, over 28 Pakistanis accused in terror cases are lodged in various jails across Jammu and Kashmir.
An Intelligence Bureau official recalled how the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat had wanted to build a jail exclusively for terrorists when he was chief minister there.
“In 2010, the Gujarat government had mooted a proposal to set up a new jail near Gandhinagar. Then Gujarat home minister Amit Shah had said if terror convicts and ordinary convicts shared the same prison, there was a chance that the ordinary convicts could become potential sleeper cells for terror groups,” the IB official said.
According to home ministry sources, a proposal is being considered to request all state governments to build separate high-security prisons away from cities to house convicted terrorists and terror suspects.
Last year, the home ministry had asked state governments to install adequate CCTV cameras and mobile-phone jammers inside jails and monitor high-risk prisoners, especially those convicted in terrorism cases, round the clock.
Sources said terror convicts in Delhi’s Tihar jail were always kept in solitary confinement in a high-security ward and they were never allowed to mingle with other prisoners.