New prison officials face protest by inmates


H.S. Revanna is now Dy. Inspector-General of Police, Prisons

A faction of inmates at the Bengaluru central prison in Parappana Agrahara here allegedly continued their protest in support of former DIG (Prisons) D. Roopa on Tuesday, even as in-charge Superintendent of Prisons Anitha Rai visited the prison in the morning.

The State government has now appointed H.S. Revanna as the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Prisons Department, to replace Ms. Roopa. He has also been given the additional charge as Chief Superintendent of the prison.

The former Chief Superintendent Krishna Kumar, too, was transferred by the government in response to two reports that Ms. Roopa had submitted, highlighting instances of special privileges provided to AIADMK leader Sasikala in return for ₹2crore bribe. The inmates, who refused to eat breakfast, staged a protest demanding the transfer of Ms. Rai as she had reported to Mr. Kumar at the time of the alleged cash-for-comfort case where preferential treatment was accorded not just to Ms. Sasikala but also to Abdul Karim Telgi.

During her visit, however, Ms. Rai directed the staff to take corrective measures.

But the inmates continued their protest well into afternoon and refused to heed orders from the prison staff. They called it off after they were assured that the newly appointed Additional Director-General of Police N.S. Megharikh would take necessary action.

After taking charge on Tuesday, Mr. Megharikh said the inmates protest was an emotional outburst. Reacting to Ms. Roopa’s reports, he said he would study the cases individually and take action. “I need to talk to the prison officials before initiating action. I will take steps to improve the condition of the prisons, and adopt best practices in accordance with the prison manual and interventions by the SC and other courts,” he said.

It was a long wait for visitors

Visitors who travelled to the Bengaluru central prison had to wait for hours before they were allowed to visit inmates. According to sources, they were only allowed to enter after in-charge Superintendent of Prisons Anitha Rai completed her inspection. The situation was tense inside the jail as a faction of inmates were protesting.

A woman from Kengeri was seen waiting outside the prison since morning carrying a lunchbox for her son. “The prison staff refused to allow me to meet my son saying that I can’t give him lunch,” she said.

Other visitors were told that they could meet inmates later in the afternoon, but only for half-an-hour instead of the regular one-hour slot. “We were told not to carry eatables,” said another visitor.

No dress code for Sasikala?

A video footage of Sasikala wearing a regular dress (not the prison dress) and walking out of her barrack with two women was circulated in sections of media, but the date of the footage has not been verified. Prison officials, on condition of anonymity, said that the privileges awarded to Sasikala had been withdrawn.

No legal aid for four undertrials

In the midst of the cash-for-comfort scandal, four undertrials housed in the central jail are yet to get legal aid. With no takers for their cases, they have been waiting for one year for lawyers. Their situation was highlighted by the former DIG Prisons during one of the inspections. She, in her report, directed officials to provide them legal assistance from the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority.

However, in light of the unprecedented development, the four undertrials will have to wait for some more time, said sources.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 6:18:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/new-prison-officials-face-protest-by-inmates/article19303866.ece

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