Soon, retired army personnel to guard Tihar jail inmates

Retired army personnel will soon guard prisoners inside Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Officials said former defence personnel will be appointed as warders, guards and assistant superintendents inside the prison complex. Housing over 15,000 people, including notorious prisoners such as underworld gangster Chhota Rajan and Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal, Tihar is India’s most populated prison. Confirming the development, officials from the Home department said the government had given an in-principle approval to the jail’s proposal to induct 426 retired army personnel.

Jail officials said the personnel will fill the current vacancies inside the prison. At present, there are only 1,500 jail officers for a population of over 15,000 prisoners. The sanctioned strength of the jail officers is around 2,500. According to sources, the idea behind inducting former defence personnel was to have a mix of young guards along with the mature and experienced officials. A jail officer said, “Sometimes, some of our new recruits get swayed or lured by prisoners into flouting rules. They help them smuggle in prohibited items or aide them in small crimes. Though there is no cent per cent guarantee but one can presume that it will be difficult for prisoners to sway or lure mature elderly men who have already served the country for so many years.”

Although jail officials and the government’s home department remained tight-lipped about the recruitment process, a senior prison officer said the service record of the ex-servicemen would be checked and only those with a clean record would be selected. Manoj Parida, Principal Secretary (Home) confirmed the prison department had come up with the proposal.

There have been many cases of young warders getting caught taking bribes to sneak prohibited items such as cell phones, tobacco or cigarettes inside the prison complex. Recently, a prison guard was suspended for sneaking a cell phone for a prisoner. Jail officers found during the enquiry that the guard had taken around Rs 25,000 to sneak two cell phones inside the prison. Apart from the jail staffers, who are Delhi government employees, the prison is secured by Tamil Nadu Special Police, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Central Reserve Police Force