Panel to recommend jammer technologies for Delhi jails gets CM’s nod

DG (Prisons) to head 10-member committee, comprising academicians from IIT-Madras, IISc-Bengaluru, DRDO scientists, as well as intelligence officials

Published - February 16, 2023 01:02 am IST - New Delhi

Some recent criminal operations being masterminded inside Tihar jail raised questions over the security and surveillance in Delhi prisons.

Some recent criminal operations being masterminded inside Tihar jail raised questions over the security and surveillance in Delhi prisons. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday approved the formation of a panel to study the latest jammer technologies and recommend them to the Delhi government for use in its prisons to block mobile signals, including 5G, an official said.

The ten-member committee will be headed by Director General (Prisons) Sanjay Beniwal and comprise Defence Research and Development Organisation scientists, professors from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, as well as officials from intelligence and security agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and the Special Protection Group, the official added.

Inmates using mobiles phones to run criminal operations outside the jail has been a major problem for prison authorities. Recent cases, such as the murder of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala and the ₹200-crore extortion racket by Sukesh Chandrasekhar, allegedly being masterminded inside the high-security Tihar jail raised questions over the security and surveillance in Delhi prisons.

According to a Delhi government official, the Prisons Department had submitted the proposal to constitute a high-level technical committee to strengthen the jammer system in the city’s jails. “Through this committee, it will be ascertained how effective the new technology is in blocking incoming/outgoing calls, SMS and data services in the jail premises,” he added.

Welcoming the panel, a senior prison official told The Hindu that amid several challenges in curbing the use of cell phones in prisons, there is a “desperate need to implement latest technologies”.

“Old and small 2G phones are difficult to jam as their signals have a long range. There are always some dark spots, like behind a thick wall or a building, where the jammers can’t penetrate,” the official said, adding that the committee will have to explore solutions that tackle such challenges.

“No matter which technology we come up with, we cannot hang on to it for long. We have to keep innovating and evolving as criminals will find a way to get around jammers,” the prison official said.

The government official said the panel will “study existing mobile networks and determine the technology to prevent unauthorised mobile communication inside prisons”, “recommend solutions to restrict mobile network in prisons based on technical study”, “find solutions for blocking 5G mobile networks” and “propose technical guidelines for the installation of base transceiver station (BTS) towers around the jail”.

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