Express News Service
PATNA: Jails getting overcrowded is not new in Bihar. But a sudden surge in the number of prisoners in the last 15 days, especially after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on prohibition of liquor, has set alarm bells ringing at the prison directorate.
Rough data from the 59 jails across the state revealed that the number of prisoners has gone up to over 72,000 against a sanctioned capacity to accommodate 46,669 prisoners.
“There has been an increase of more than 10,000 prisoners in November. Of them, 8,000 were in the last 15 days. If the trend continues, it will be difficult to cope with the situation,” a senior official said.
Beur central jail in Patna has at present 5,600 prisoners against a capacity of 2,360. Jail superintendent Jitendra Kumar said the count was 5,400 before the review meeting on prohibition on November 16. He claimed that the capacity of 96 wards has been rationalised to lessen the pressure.
Hajipur district jail has around 2,500 inmates against a capacity of 1,141. Superintendent Sanjay Kumar said he was facing problems due to sudden rise in the number.
One of the jail superintendents has requested authorities to expedite the bail process for those booked on charges of violating the prohibition law to lessen the burden. “Some of the habitual drunkards lodged in the jail have made the life of other inmates difficult. They cry for liquor at night, forcing others to go sleepless,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Prison officials attributed this to the CM’s directive to go after the violators of the prohibition law and check illegal smuggling of liquor. After receiving flak from the Opposition for his failure to check bootlegging, Kumar had held a high-level meeting recently to strengthen prohibition.