Naveed escape fallout: Prisons Deptt to streamline visitors to central jail

After the recent escape of top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Naveed Jhatt from police captivity in SMHS hospital, authorities are likely to put in place a mechanism to streamline visitors to prisons in the Valley.
Authoritative sources told Rising Kashmir that the Prisons department would seek the personal details from inmates to limit their meetings with their family members.
“We are collecting from jail inmates the list of their relatives, who wish to meet them. The list will be made available to staff deployed at the entrance of central jail, Srinagar and the staff will check the visitors’ relation with the prisoner. The visitor will have to provide a photograph beside other details before meeting the inmate,” they said.
According to sources, background of visitors will also be thoroughly checked.
The measure is being taken by the prisons department in the aftermath of a daring escape by LeT militant, Naveed Jhat alias Abu Hunzullah from the police captivity at SMHS hospital on February 6 during which two policemen were killed.
The internal inquiry by Prisons department is currently underway to find possible lapses by officials at Central Jail, Srinagar where Naveed was lodged.
“The inquiry is underway. There were some deficiencies in the process as the two officers, who were part of a police escort to prisoners to SMHS hospital, were not available since police inquiry overlapped with prisons inquiry,” DIG Prisons Mohammad Sultan Lone, who is inquiring the matter, said.
Police have detained five people for the escape of LeT commander and custody of all the five was handed over to NIA, which has taken over investigations of the case.
According to police, Hilal Ahmad Rather, who was the main conspirator behind Naveed’s escape and HM militant Tikka Khan, who has been arrested, had visited Naveed many at time at Central Jail and had planned the escape four months back.
“The prisons inquiry would try to find who allowed the duo to meet Naveed,” a senior police officer said.
Sources said at least nine phone jammers were installed at Central Jail, Srinagar to curtail network frequency but the jammers were technologically outdated.
An official said the jammers installed have a technical capacity to restrain 2G and 3G network frequency only and not 4G network.
He said when 4G mobile service was launched in Kashmir, the prisons department had taken up the matter of upgradation of jammers with the state home department.
DIG Lone said that there was a need to install upgraded mobile phone jammers in the prison.
“We had taken up the matter for upgradation of jammers in the Central Jail with home department. In response, they had sought cost estimation which was provided,” he said.
There are 14 jails in J&K where 2500 prisoners including militants are lodged.
Earlier, nine foreign militants, who were lodged in Central Jail Srinagar, were shifted to Jammu jails.
Naveed, who was initially lodged at Kathua jail, was shifted to Srinagar on court orders.
Sources said Central Jail, Srinagar is also well equipped with CCTV cameras.
“The CCTV cameras are installed on towers, all walls, main gates, all blocks and interview rooms to keep a check on inmates and avoid any escape by a prisoner. The jail has around 90 CCTV cameras,” they said.
They said that Prisons department is taking up installation of CCTV cameras in inner barracks in the second phase.
“The CCTV cameras are not yet installed in barracks. But, CCTV for barracks is in pipeline,” sources said.
After Naveed’s escape, police has directed the Prisons Department to shift all the arrested militant, in need of medical treatment, to police hospital Srinagar.
The doctors in police hospital can take a call whether the militant prisoner needs to be shifted for advanced treatment to any of the government hospitals.
“Since the escape took place from the hospital, the procedure to shift prisoners to the hospital has to be changed. Only in rare cases, inmates will be taken to SMHS-like hospital,” said Lone.
Reports said the arrested militants are likely to be shifted to Jammu jails and police would take strong security measures to ensure the process.
After Naveed’s escape, the government transferred Director General of Prisons, SK Mishra, suspended Superintendent of Central Jail Srinagar, Hilal Ahmad and removed medical staff from the jail.