Overcrowding forces jail inmates to sleep on verandas

Himalayan News Service

Biratnagar, June 18:

The overcrowding of Biratnagar prison has forced prison authorities to make many of the inmates sleep out on the verandas. The jail can accommodate 250 inmates, but jailor Baburam Khatiwada said there are currently 428 inmates living in 12 rooms. He said 100 of the inmates were accused Maoists. Though women inmates (28 including two minors) were shifted to a newly built three-roomed building, Khatiwada said overcrowding was still a major problem. So much so that the prison administration office had been shifted to a nearby rice godown to make room, he said.

Generally, room leaders are appointed who would guard the rooms after dinner, he said "they are, however, unable to keep an eye on inmates sleeping on verandas".

With prisoners sleeping on verandas, Khatiwada pointed out they were staring at possible jailbreaks, and that the jail had started correspondence with the prison department.

Constructed in the early 1970s, the prison building is in need of repair, and prison officials said it is a disaster waiting to happen. According to them, the monsoon is the worst season for the inmates as "they have to stay under umbrellas because the ceilings leak."

In addition to leaky ceilings, the prison does not even have a security fence. Jailor Khatiwada said they had requested the prison department to allow the inmates prison to be shifted to Sunsari prison. The prison was recently renovated and does not house a single prisoner.