STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 20th Nov:
A team of journalists took first-hand account of conditions of inmates at Sajiwa jail and Manipur Central jail apart from assessing present conditions of both the jails on Monday.
During interaction with the team led by All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) president Wangkhemcha Shamjai, most inmates called for organising more vocational trainings inside the jail premises so that they could be reformed and seamlessly brought to mainstream life.
The 17-member team first visited Sajiwa jail which is located under Heingang police and interacted with SP Phanitphang and other officials of the jail.
During the interaction, Phanitphang told the scribes that condition of Sajiwa jail has been significantly reformed and many changes have been brought. He, however, informed that jail authorities are handicapped in bringing additional changes due to lack of fund.
While disclosing that annual budget of the jail is Rs 3.44 crore only, Phanitphang said Rs 1.49 crore out of annual budget are meant for giving salary to staff and Rs 3 lakh for wages and Rs 1.38 crore for ration of the inmates. Rest of the budget are spent in various activities like office expenses, oil, clothes of inmates and uniforms for staff, minor works, medicines and vehicle maintenance.
Since April last, government has not released the amount mentioned in the budget except staff salary and ration money and hence jail authorities are facing immense hardship, Phanitphang said, adding that expenses for vehicle maintenance, transportation of inmates to court and medicines for inmates are either done on credit or from contributions among the officers.
Sajiwa jail covers an area of 105 acres and has capacity for lodging 720 inmates but a total 807 inmates are currently staying in the jail with 220 staff. Construction of two blocks for lodging additional inmates is in progress and once this block is completed the jail will have an additional capacity of lodging 920 inmates, he added.
Among the 807 inmates who are currently lodged at Sajiwa Jail, 62 are convicted UGs, 49 NSA detainees, 454 under-trial prisoner non-extremists, 137 under-trial extremists and 105 are under-trial drug addicts, Phanitphang said, while adding that one Chinese, 19 Myanmarese including 15 convicted, one each convicted and under-trial Bangladeshi are also lodged currently at the jail.
According to Phanitphang, unwanted incidents occurred in the past due to use of mobile phone inside the jail premises.To check recurrence of any unwanted cases work for installation of eight mobile network jammers is underway and nearing completion.
The jail has well-maintained library, gymnasium and Yoga class apart from organising vocational training from time to time, he said adding that inmates are earning their own income by making handicraft items like traditional stool (Mora).
Some inmates informed the scribes’ team that they faced no problem or inconvenience currently but expressed their desire for having more vocational trainings so that they could earn their livelihood after coming out of the jail and return to mainstream life.
The same team then visited Manipur Central jail located at Old Lambulane and met SP Subaschandra, who informed that the jail currently lodged 37 inmates-32 female and five male. Among them, two women inmates are convicted as also all five male inmates, he said adding that the remaining female inmates are all under-trial.
According to Subaschandra, inmates are provided vocational training by installing sewing machines so that they could be reformed and earn their own income.
During interaction, some inmates informed the team that more vocational trainings need to be imparted.