At long last, Arunachal Pradesh is going to have its first jail on Tuesday, ending a saga of keeping undertrials and convicts in police lock-ups and prisons in Assam.
Around 30 undertrial prisoners (UTPs) in judicial custody, now lodged in lock ups of various police stations here, will be shifted to the central jail, which had to be refurbished for taking in the first group of even visitors.
Developed as a reform centre under the new approach to treat the prisoners, the Rs 3 crore jail infrastructure has been lying unused after completion since 2005.
The then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had come to inaugurate it that year but had to cancel the programme due to the demise of the then Pope.
Since then the inauguration was skipped on several occasions for one reason or the other and the unmanned building became covered by shrubs. Electrical and other fittings were also stolen.
Faced with criticism from a team of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2008 about the practice of keeping the UTPs in police lock ups under inhuman and unhygienic conditions, instead of jail as per the Supreme Court guidelines, the state authorities swung into action, said team member advocate Sunil Mow.
The government had been also under pressure from civil rights activists like Arunachal Citizens’ Right chairman Bamang Anthony, demanding shifting of Arunachalee convicts from jails in Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, North Lakhimpur and Tezpur in Assam at a huge expenditure on the Arunachal state exchequer.
“We have informed the deputy commissioners and SPs of Papum Pare and Capital Complex districts to arrange for shifting the UTPs to the jail,” jail superintendent Michi Paku said.
Spread over around 7 acre of land surrounded by high hills with a small stream flowing by, the jail has kitchens and dining rooms in each blocks housing different categories of prisoners. The total capacity of all the blocks is around 50, including 10 female prisoners.
There are separate wings for female and male inmates complete with worksheds to impart vocational training to the inmates and a health centre, Mr. Paku told PTI.
Being located near the Ashram of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, arrangements are being made for imparting yoga and meditation training to the inmates, he said.
The 11th Finance Commission had sanctioned Rs 10 crore for construction of jail infrastructure in the border state in 2000. Besides Itanagar jail, another has also been completed at Tezu, headquarters of Lohit district, which will also be operationalised soon. Seven Sub-jails in six districts were also completed.