ITAHARI: Prison houses in the east are crammed with inmates, some housing even more than they can accommodate. And with the mercury rising, these coolers have turned into a hellhole, subjecting those cooling their heels behind bars to serious health hazards.
It’s not that the inmates have not voiced their concerns; they have even launched agitations at times. As many as 93 jailbirds languishing in Sankhuwasabha District Prison had about a month ago submitted a 10-point demand to Chief District Officer requesting him to do the needful to upgrade the jail. But the situation of the prison, which can accommodate only 35 jailbirds, has not changed a bit.
Compared to prisons in the eastern hill region, condition of jails in the Tarai region is worse. The Eastern Region Prison at Jhumka, Sunsari is home to 638 prisoners, exceeding its capacity by 138. Employees at these prisons say that with the onset of summer, the jailbirds are at the risk of contracting diseases. Situation in some of the jails is so bad that the jailbirds have to sleep in turn for the want of enough space.
Chief of Siraha jail Babita Mahato said prisoners usually suffer from diarrhoea and scabies and at times fall unconscious due to the scorching heat. “More than a dozen jailbirds fall sick every day,” said Mahato.
Chhabilal BK, assistant jailer at the Eastern Region Prison said these crowded jails with the lack of water and electricity have turned into hell.
General Manager of the Department of Prison Durga Bhandari admitted that jails in the east were in dilapidated condition. According to him, 42 inmates of Dhankuta jail have been crammed in a dark room of a court after an old prison building in Dhankuta collapsed.
Construction of prison buildings in Ilam and Jhapa is under way. Bhandari said his department had launched a campaign to expand jails and has managed one health worker in each prison in the region. “DoP has plans to expand jails across the country,” added Bhandari, according to whom, there are 13,500 jailbirds in prisons across the country.
District Capacity Prisoners doing time
Solukhumbu 35 93
Okhaldhunga 35 47
Bhojpur 35 84
Dhankuta 35 42
Panchthar 35 125
Taplejung 25 93
Terhathum 25 37
Udayapur 75 90
Siraha 125 188
Saptari 125 191
Jhapa 250 633
Morang 250 540