Sans jammers, Mandoli is a ‘cellular-friendly’ jail

Delhi’s Mandoli jail, where over 3,000 prisoners are lodged, has been functioning without a cellphone signal jammer, because the prison administration is still awaiting 4G jammers. Jail officials in Mandoli — opened for prisoners in 2016, to decongest Delhi’s Tihar prison — confirmed that they are yet to install a signal jammer. The device is used to block signals emitted from cellphones, making it impossible for prisoners to use phones inside the prison complex, even if they manage to smuggle the phone in. Prisoners are prohibited from carrying or using cellphones inside Indian jails.

Taking advantage of the absence of jammers, prisoners in Mandoli seem to be having a free run — making extortion calls, lodging complaints, or making videos and sharing them with their contacts in the city. Over the past two months, the Delhi Police claimed to have busted two extortion rackets run by prisoners from inside the Mandoli jail complex.

A senior home department official said 4G jammers, which have only recently been granted government approval, were not available earlier. “We have moved for their installation, and preliminary work is underway. Getting permission to use jammers and installing equipped with the latest technology takes time. But once installed, the devices will be the best and make all cellphones useless inside the prison.”

Fifteen days ago, the video of a western Uttar Pradesh gangster, which showed the man recording a video on his cellphone while cooking inside a Mandoli prison cell had gone viral on social media. Prison officials said that though the new prison may be functioning without a jammer, they have been directed by the Director General of Prisons to conduct stringent checks every day. “Senior officers have ordered us to conduct strict security checks and warned us of action if phones are smuggled inside. Inquiry proceedings have been ordered in the few cases where cellphones were used by prisoners. We have been warned that there will be strict action so that nothing of that sort happens in the future.”