There is a suspicion they have been acting as conduits

Convict warders (convicts discharged after serving a 7-year sentence and appointed on daily wage basis) in the Central Prison for Men, Vellore, have been taken off their duty as night watchmen following suspicion that they were acting as conduits in reaching cellphones to prison inmates.

This follows a series cellphone seizures from the prison premises in the last few weeks.

One cellphone without a SIM card was seized from the new block (block 5) housing undertrials on Monday. According to the Bagayam police, which have registered a case in this connection, the cellphone was found concealed in the block.

On Sunday, a person travelling on a motorcycle threw a cloth bag containing two Vodaphone SIM cards, four chargers and 450 gm of marijuana.

The culprits could not be traced. The prison officials have lodged a complaint with the police.

The Bagayam Police have so far registered 10 cases in connection with the seizure of cellphones from the Central Prison for Men as well as the Special Prison for Women, Vellore.

R. Duraisamy, Deputy Inspector-General of Prisons, Chennai Range, told The Hindu over phone on Monday that 261 cellphones were seized from the prison premises and inmates throughout the State in the last few months. These included eight cellphones, including two without SIM cards, that were seized from the Vellore prison. But convict warders were taken off night duty only in the Vellore prison. Such action would be taken in the case of convict warders in other prisons if any needle of suspicion pointed at them. The services of the convict warders in the Vellore prison, who are given a daily wage of Rs.60, would however be utilised during the daytime, he said.

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