Cash to the tune of Rs. 1.38 lakh was seized from 50 inmates and five cell phones and six SIM cards were recovered from prisoners’ cells and outside, in a joint raid carried out by the jail authorities and police in the Central Prison for Men here on Saturday.

The raids, which began at 5.45 a.m., lasted three hours. They came in the wake of complaints of clandestine supply of cell phones to the inmates with the connivance of prison staff and reports of inmates masterminding criminal activities outside the prison.

Six persons arrested for the murder of V. Aravinth Reddy, former Tamil Nadu State Bharatiya Janata Party medical wing secretary and president of the Indian Medical Association, Vellore branch, on October 23, had confessed that they were directed by ‘Vasur’ Raja, an inmate of the prison, to carry out the task.

(‘Vasur’ Raja, who was booked under the Goondas Act following his arrest in an attempt to murder case in Vellore, was shifted to Central Prison, Cuddalore, a couple of days ago.)

About 80 police personnel led by I. Eswaran, Superintendent of Police, Vellore district, and comprising Deputy Superintendents of Police Dakshinamoorthy (Vellore), V. Madhivanan (Katpadi) and S. Seetharam (Arakkonam), four Inspectors, 12 Sub-Inspectors and about 60 constables assisted the prison authorities in the raids.

Hari, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Cell, Tamil Nadu Prisons Department, Chennai, and Araivudainambi, Superintendent of the Central Prison, Vellore, supervised the raids on behalf of the Prisons Department. According to a police officer who participated in the raid, they were shocked at the presence of huge amounts in the possession of the inmates.

There had been a terrible laxity in the enforcement of prison rules, which was reflected in the easy smuggling in of cell phones into the prisons in recent years. Another undesirable development within the prison was the ‘grooming’ of fellow inmates by hardened criminals to turn into assassins when they went out of the prison. A police officer suggested that the Prisons Department could install jammers to deactivate cell phones inside prisons.

A spokesman of the Prisons Department said that action would be taken against the inmates found in possession of cell phones and cash based on the report to be submitted by the jail authorities who carried out the raids.

An enquiry would be conducted into the complaints of connivance of prison staff in the smuggling of cell phones, he said.

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