Eight life convicts were injured, two of them seriously, when police canecharged them, as protests against checks in their cells to look for hidden cellphones turned violent.

The prisoners first clashed with police who checked their cells and later with the police commandos, who were called in to control the situation after which we had to resort to a lathicharge on Tuesday, Jail superintendent Arivudai Nambi said.

The checks were carried out following a tip off that cell phones were being used inside the prisons, he said.

The official said a departmental enquiry would be held into the incident.

Six of the injured were treated at hospital and discharged while the two seriously injured, one of whom is involved in the murder of former Minister Aladi Aruna are being treated in the prison itself, he said.

Meanwhile, the prisoners refused to eat food in protest against the lathicharge and alleged the Jail Superintendent had allowed excess force to be used against them.

Jail officials said the prisoners withdrew their fast this morning after Mr. Nambi held talks with them.

There are 1700 prisoners in the prison, of whom 300 to 400 are life convicts.