DGP (Prisons) says it is only a preliminary step to improve functioning of prisons

The Prisons Department on Tuesday transferred 28 “ineffective or not-acting officers” attached to the District Jail, Kozhikode, after five undertrial prisoners there were revealed to have regularly used mobile phones to update their Facebook accounts and make calls.

The alleged violation of prison rules has triggered a stormy political controversy in the State as the “high-profile” prisoners were those accused in the murder of the Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T.P. Chandrasekharan in Kannur last year. Several local Communist Party of India (Marxist) functionaries are facing trial along with them. Director General of Police, Prisons, Alexander Jacob, told The Hindu that the transfers were a preliminary measure to improve the efficiency of the prison’s functioning in the light of the recent revelations and not penal in nature. The Kozhikode police have registered a case (FIR 675/13) against the undertrials.

More than 100 jail officers, assisted by the anti-sabotage squads (carrying electronic devices to detect buried devices with electronic circuitry or batteries) of the police, scoured the prison for mobile phones, but to no avail.

Later in the day, 21 mobile phone accessories were found outside the Kozhikode District Jail compound wall in a raid conducted by the city police.

The Facebook accounts purported to be of the undertrials made no secret of their pro-Communist political leanings. The images posted there showed them in civil clothes in various poses inside the prison’s walled precincts. Investigators said the photographs appeared to have been snapped in the prison areas not covered by its surveillance camera network. The police have written to Facebook to part with the digital trail left behind by the undertrials on the social networking sites, including the time of the posts and the servers through which their Internet activities were routed, to crack the case. Mr. Jacob said that smuggling of mobile phones into the prison was not always a preventable crime.

Even administrators of super-maximum-security prisons in developed countries encountered the problem periodically. He said expensive mobile jammers were not the sole answer to the problem. Such jammers disrupted communications in the densely populated neighbourhoods of State prisons.

The Prisons Department would seek court permission to transfer the undertrials to the Central Jail in Thiruvananthapuram.