Custodial death raises concern over safety of prisoners

| | Ranchi
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Custodial death raises concern over safety of prisoners

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 | PNS | Ranchi

The alleged suicide of an undertrial murder accused at the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi has raised concerns over security of inmates at the largest prison in Jharkhand.

A 32-year-old prisoner, facing charges of murder and extortion, allegedly hanged himself to death using a towel in his cell on Saturday night, jail authorities said. A message, “Jailer ne mera murder kiya hai” (the jailer killed me) was found written with a pen on the foot of the deceased’s body when jail authorities recovered it, indicating possibilities of a foul play by another prisoner or one of the staff members.

Virendra Munda, the prisoner who allegedly killed himself, was under distress after the death of one of his family members last week, and was shifted to the hospital at Birsa Munda Central Jail for treatment, said Jail Superintendent Hamid Akhter.

Akhter denied the chances of foul play in the incident, claiming that Munda had tried to jump off a balcony in the jail hospital before hanging himself at his cell, indicating that he was suffering from depression and was suicidal.

“I don’t think there is any foul play here. We have CCTV footage that prove nobody entered Virendra’s cell before the incident,” said Akhter, adding that the jail administration has sought a judicial probe into the matter.

Munda was sent to the Birsa Munda Central Jail on July 5, 2021. Jail authorities said that he had to be sent to the hospital in the jail premises after he suffered from bouts of extreme anger and turned violent a couple of times. He also died in a cell at the hospital, which is not a high security zone, jail authorities said.

Besides the message written on the deceased’s body, other suspected lacunae in the incident have also kept jail authorities worried. According to sources from the Ranchi jail, Munda hanged himself with the help of a towel on a door frame which was six-and-a-half feet tall. Munda was five-feet-three-inches tall, and it seemed quite impossible for a person to hang himself in such a cramped setting, sources said.

Jailer of Birsa Munda Central Jail, Mohammad Naseem could not be contacted for his remarks on Monday. The Jail Superintendent, however, clarified that Naseem was not seen anywhere close to Virendra Munda’s cell before the incident.

As per figures with the jail authorities, there are over 3,600 prisoners in the Birsa Munda Central Jail and around 1200 of them are convicts.

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