‘Told IGP and DIG to conduct searches, they never did’
Srinagar: SK Mishra, former Director General (DG) of Prisons, J&K, has blamed both the police and the state home department for not cooperating with him during his tenure in maintaining security of prisons in Kashmir.
“I wrote multiple times to the home department that the security of jails was not sufficient,” Mishra told Kashmir Reader. “I also wrote to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Munir Khan and the Deputy Inspector General of Police to conduct searches of jails after every fifteen days, under the supervision of a senior police officer. But it never happened.”
According to the police, the escape plan for Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Naveed alias Abu Hanzullah was hatched in Srinagar Central Jail. Police said two active militants, Tikka Khan and Hilal Rather, regularly used to visit the Central Jail in Srinagar.
Asked if prisoners were allowed to keep mobile phones in jail, Mishra who was removed as DG prisons after the militant’s escape and posted as Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation said, “No.”
“The police, security personnel, and CRPF officials regularly checked the prisoners after every 15 days,” Mishra said. “All their search reports are lying with me. It was their duty to conduct searches. They never found anything with the prisoners. The prisons department staff is not meant for searches. As I said, I told IGP Munir Khan and the DIG that they should have the searches conducted under senior police officers. They never did. They would send a low-ranking police officer with a team and they would conduct the searches.”
Mishra further said it was due to his efforts that the Baramulla sub-jail was raided and phones and other illegal possessions were recovered from the prisoners.
How, then, could the two active militants, Tikka Khan and Hilal Rather, regularly meet Naveed in central jail? Mishra replied, “A team of CID (Criminal investigation Department) is permanently deputed there. Whosoever comes to meet the prisoner, they (CID personnel) know of it. This responsibility falls under the purview of the civilian intelligence agency.”
The police had said that Tikka Khan and Hilal Rather were in constant touch on phone with Naveed when he was in jail. To this, Mishra said, “The (signal) jammers inside the jails do not work as they are outdated. You need specialised jammers which will block signals of 3G and 4G mobile phones. There were none. The jammers in the jails did not work at all.”
“I wrote several times to the home department that they should provide jammers, but they never paid any heed to us,” he added.
The former DG Prisons said that he visited Tamil Nadu and Tihar jails to learn of techniques to increase security of jails. “Neither the police nor the government responded to my communications,” Mishra said. “I asked them to repair the jails, but the government said it had no money. I also recommended the segregation of prisoners, which also did not happen.”
Another point he asked the government to consider was that jail superintendents should be drawn from the police. “A Superintendent of Police-rank officer should be in charge of the sub-jails,” Mishra said. “But there is none. Only five jail superintendents are for 15 sub-jails. You should also know that not a single PSO (personal security officer) is allotted to the jail superintendents.”
Following the escape of Hanzullah from police custody at SMHS hospital, Mishra was relieved of his job as DG Prisons. The Superintendent of Srinagar Central Jail was suspended. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the investigation from the JK Police.