Authorities of the Puzhal Central Jail on the outskirts of Chennai have removed 18 television sets and two FM radios from its premises in the wake of findings that inmates were using these appliances to charge mobile phones sneaked inside illegally.
"We withdrew 18 televisions from A Class wards in the jail after discovering that inmates were using their USB ports to charge mobile phones. The televisions will be reinstalled after the issue is resolved," a prison official told NDTV, adding that seven cellphones were recently confiscated from prisoners in a raid. Televisions, he clarified, were not illegal but a "luxury" provided in accordance with guidelines.
The Puzhal Central Jail has lately been in the eye of a storm, with a warder being suspended for allegedly smuggling marijuana into its premises and a newspaper publishing photographs showing non-uniformed inmates making the most of luxuries such as mattresses, sneakers and toiletries. The report claimed that these articles were provided to the prisoners at a "very high price".
The official, however, asserted that there was nothing untoward about certain inmates enjoying differential treatment. "It's not illegal for A Class prisoners to get their own mattresses," he said.
He explained away another photograph showing inmates having non-prison delicacies by saying that they are allowed to prepare their own special food on "some festive days".
The Puzhal Central Jail, which has a 200-acre campus capable of accommodating up to 3,000 prisoners, is considered one of the most modern prisons in the country.
Smuggling of contraband into prison cells is an issue that has plagued jails across the country. In May, officials of the Gurdaspur jail in Punjab seized 21 mobile phones in a massive search launched across its premises. Three months later, raids conducted at the Muzzafarpur and Bettiah jails in Bihar resulted in the recovery of chewing tobacco, knives and chargers, besides cellphones and Rs 50,000 in cash.
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