A section of inmates at the Jalpaiguri correctional home in West Bengal held a violent protest on Saturday, demanding that they be granted bail in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, officials said.
The correctional facility houses around 1,400 prisoners in eight wards, and of them, 550 inmates staged the protest citing a Supreme Court directive, they said.
The inmates threw stones and indulged in vandalism, and the violent protest continued for five hours before senior officials held talks with the inmates and pacified them.
On March 23, the Supreme Court had directed all states and Union Territories to constitute high-level committees to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and undertrials for offences entailing up to seven-year jail term to decongest prisons in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 50-60 inmates led the others in the protest, said Chief Disciplinary Officer Ashim Acharya.
The trouble started in the morning but jail authorities were successful in pacifying the prisoners, he said, adding that they were then provided masks and sanitisers.
Around noon the protest started again and the prisoners shut the main gate of the facility from inside, officials said.
They then started hurling stones and damaged three CCTV cameras inside the prison complex, they said.
Hearing the prison siren locals gathered around the complex and fire tenders also rushed to the facility.
Taking advantage of the situation, some inmates tried to escape the prison, officials said.
A large number of police personnel, including those of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), were deployed around the complex to prevent any attempts of jailbreak.
The vandalism went on for five hours, following which Superintendent of Police Abhishek Modi, the correctional home's superintendent Shamik Sarkar and other senior officials met the inmates.
The agitation was called off after the meeting, officials said, adding that no policemen were injured in the violence.
Around 200 inmates of the correctional home have already been released on either parole or bail, following the Supreme Court directive, according to official sources.
Last month, clashes broke out at the Dumdum Correctional Home near Kolkata over the state government's decision not to allow the inmates to meet their families due to the coronavirus outbreak.