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Mobile phones abound in Tihar Jail, 63 phones recovered in past 3 months

Tihar JailThis year has seen a 400 per cent jump in the number of seized mobile phones in Asia’s largest prison complex.Tihar jail authorities are in a tizzy following the arrest of suspended IAS officer Sanjeev Kumar, a convict in the junior basic teachers’ appointment scam, on Friday for plotting to murder his friend-urned-rival with the help of gangster Shaukat Pasha.

The reason behind the worry is not unearthing of the plan for contract killing which is now common in the jail but the fact that Pasha, jailed in Tihar, was found to be using five phone numbers to contact Kumar.

Alarm bells are ringing in Asia’s largest prison complex with a 400 per cent jump in number of seized mobile phones this year. While only nine, 12, 38 and 40 phones were recovered in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, already 63 have been recovered in the past three months.

Sources said prisoners use these to make extortion calls and plan crimes. A high alert was sounded and checks intensified in September last year after drug kingpin Sharafat Sheikh was found using 13 SIM cards on a single mobile phone from Jail number 5.

After a probe, Delhi Police’s Crime Branch had then told jail authorities that call detail records revealed that two jail wardens and four other staff assisted Sheikh. In February, two notorious gangsters Amit Shukla (an accused in the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan) and Naveen Bali were caught openly using mobile phones.

“A total of 60 plus mobiles have been seized in the past three months. The use is more rampant in prison numbers 1, 3, 4, 8, 9 and the one in Rohini where rich or VIP category prisoners and hardcore gangsters are lodged.

These gangsters feel they need to remain active in their business of extortion or planning crimes with their associates outside,” Tihar Jail PRO Mukesh Prasad told Mail Today. “Though 35 jammers are installed, these are proving to be ineffective. Several times we have found that wires of the jammers are disconnected. Several wardens are also under scanner.

This smacks of mismanagement,” said an official while speaking on condition of anonymity.

Acting on a PIL filed by a prisoner who pointed out rampant use of mobiles by inmates, the Delhi High Court had in 2011 directed Delhi Government and Tihar Jail authorities to seize phones and install effective jammers immediately.

Most prisoners smuggle in mobiles by concealing it inside their private parts when they come from a court date or medical tests where the instrument is handed over by their relative or associate.

“Generally private parts are not checked during physical inspection. Prisoners use their body cavities like the anus, arm pits or even mouth. At times they bring it dismantled and then assemble it.

These days, phones of two and three inches are also available and that makes smuggling easy,” said the official.

In many cases, staff passes on phones while at times, these are thrown into the jail compound from outside.

A worried jail administration has now decided to install full body scanners worth Rs 1 crore each outside all prisons and also proposes to increase the number of jammers.

They have also decided to take strict action against colluding officials and staff.

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