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Delhi prisons operating at 1/3rd staff strength | Latest News Delhi

The Delhi prisons department through an internal survey has found that it is operating at only one-third of its required staff strength, senior officials aware of the matter said on Wednesday.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is bought to Tihar Jail in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)

According to the officials, Delhi’s prisons — Tihar, Mandoli, and Rohini — currently have 2,540 jail staff. The Delhi jail manual states that there must be one warder for six to seven inmates. However, data from the Delhi prisons headquarters has revealed a severe staff crunch and an over-congestion in the Capital’s jails, leading to the department proposing through an administrative reforms (AR) file that the strength be increased to 7,372 personnel, which translates to an addition of 4,832 staffers.

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HT has seen the proposal, which officials said are prepared after every three to five years to “create more posts” in the prisons department.

However, the Delhi government’s initial review committee after their own analysis decided to provide only 3,247 additional personnel, the officials quoted above said.

Prisons director general Sanjay Beniwal said the gap in personnel is not acute at present. “We do need more people to take care of more things such as video conferencing, and to cater to the increasing population of the inmates in all prisons.”

This file requires the signature of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who himself is lodged in jail.

A spokesperson for the Delhi government did not respond to requests for comment.

A senior jail official posted at Tihar jail number 2 — where Kejriwal is lodged — said that at least eight jail staffers have been deployed for round-the-clock security for Kejriwal alone. These include one-two assistant superintendents, two guards, two head warders and one quick response team (QRT).

Also lodged in jail number 2 are gangsters Chhota Rajan, Neeraj Bawana, and Naveen Bali. Jail officials revealed that all these men are “high-profile” and “high-risk” inmates, and require five to ten staffers near their cells round-the-clock.

In addition, some jails are better off than others. Tihar’s jail number 8 has more than 2,800 inmates, according to officials, but only 60-80 staffers.

“We keep shifting inmates from one ward to another to avoid any conflicts. Regular frisking and checking aren’t possible due to the over congested jails and short staff present. Also, most smuggling and assault cases are not reported from high-profile inmate wards but our wards. If we have more staff, checking and frisking could be done regularly across jails,” an official from jail number 8, on condition of anonymity, said.

To be sure, notorious gangster Tillu Tajpuriya was killed inside jail number 8 by a group of rivals last May.

The file for additional personnel may also run into administrative limbo — the file is first sent to the home department, and is then reviewed by the finance department. “The file is then passed to the chief minister and lieutenant governor for final approvals and signatures,” a senior official said, also requesting anonymity.

Kejriwal, the chief minister, is himself currently in jail and is unable to receive any official files, which may lead to an administrative mess. However, officials said that it could take several months for the file to reach the CM’s office.

“We have sent it to the home secretary’s office… Such files usually take months or years to get final approval,” Beniwal said.

Sunil Gupta, former Tihar jail officer who is currently a lawyer at the Delhi high court, said, “The administrative reforms file is prepared once a need for new postings arises. Jail staff ask for more deployment and undergo subsequent checks by the department… The file also impacts officers awaiting promotion.”

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