Hundreds Of Prisoners Catch Covid-19 Infection, Several Die, PUCL Demands Decongestion Of Jails

Tihar Central Jail, Delhi.

Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Hundreds of inmates all over the country have caught Covid infection, with many of them in several states having succumbed to Covid 19. Worried over the overcrowding of jails in all the states and all of them highly vulnerable to infection, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has demanded to decongest prions all over the country by releasing prisoners with less serious charges.

Speaking to India Tomorrow, PUCL general secretary V Suresh said that the Central government should come out with a policy of decongesting jails, and inmates with less serious charges be let out because of emergency situation prevailing in the country owing to community spread of the Covid-19 with available health infrastructure not being able to cope with the situation.

“Emergency situation requires emergency action”, he said adding that his organisation had written a letter in this connection to the Centre demanding “decentralised jails in the form of open prisons”. He said that there were many states where open jails had been set up by their prison departments.

Meanwhile, a Delhi-based advocate R K Gosain has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking decongestion of three jails in Delhi by releasing prisoners on interim bail because they were vulnerable to catch Covid-19 infection due to overcrowding and impossibility of following social and physical distancing norms in such a situation.


A senior official of Tihar jail told India Tomorrow over phone that as many as 284 jail inmates-including 42 females-have tested Covid positive, out of which 21 had recovered, and two (43-year-old Mohammed Anees, son of Abdul Hameed, and 62-year-old Mukesh Talwar) have died.  While Anees died on April 27, 2021 Talwar died on April 29, 2021. Earlier, in June and July 2020, two inmates, both above 60 years of age, had died of Covid infection in Mandoli jail.

The official said that the Covid positive patients, many of them in serious condition, were under treatment in different hospitals. However, he did not name the hospitals where they were undergoing treatment.

It may be mentioned that former JNU researcher Umar Khalid, who is in Tihar jail, has been detected Covid positive.

The Tihar jail official said that a total of 114 jail staff has tested Covid positive in the last few weeks. While one of them has recovered, the rest of 1143 jail staff are currently under treatment in medical wards in Tihar and Mandoli jails. While total intake capacity of jails in Delhi is 10,026, there are more than 18,900 inmates currently lodged in Delhi’s three jails, comprising Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli jails, causing overcrowding and increasing the risk of spread of Covid-19 infections.

According to Delhi police sources, as many as 17 police personnel, who had received the first vaccine shot, have died of Covid 19 during the second Covid wave. A total of 33 policemen had died during the first wave. According to police sources, a total of 2,000 policemen, out of a total strength of 82,000 personnel in Delhi police, have tested Covid positive during the second wave. It means more than 2.5 percent of the personnel are infected with Covid-19 and this is despite all of them have received the first dose of the vaccine and some of them having received second dose as well.


A large number of prison inmates in UP jails are also reported to be corona positive, requiring treatment. Among them is Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested under UAPA. The Supreme Court yesterday ordered that Kappan, keeping in view his serious condition, be shifted to some hospitals in Delhi. The court gave orders on a petition by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) of which Kappan was general secretary till he was arrested by UP police on October 5, 2020. KUWJ petition had stated that there were at least 50 inmates with Kappan in Mathura jail who had tested corona positive.

Three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs in Uttar Pradesh — Lucknow West MLA Suresh Kumar Srivastava (76), Auraiya Sadar MLA Ramesh Chandra Diwakar and Nawabganj MLAKesar Singh Gangwar (64) died of Covid-19 in the last one week.

Apart from it, Justice Virendra Kumar Srivastava of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court died of Covi-19 on April 28. He was 59.


According to media reports, more than a dozen inmates have tested positive in Devgarh Baria sub-jail in Dahod district of Gujarat. Many inmates were also tested Covid positive in Vadodara, Sabarmati and Rajkot jails in Gujarat.


According to media reports, Covid-19 tests were conducted on 57,524 prison inmates across the state in the first week of April this year and 3,116 were tested positive. While 2,911 of them recovered, seven others died and 198 were reported active.  Similarly, 3896 prison staff were tested for Covid and 717 were found positive. While 623 recovered from the infection, eight of them died and 86 cases were reported active.


Karnataka Home minister Basavaraj Bommai told journalists today that there were 300 jail inmates in the state who had got Covid 19 infection. Following this, sanitation of jails has begun and action has been initiated to isolate Covid patients in jail.

Tamil Nadu

According to a news report on April 23, as many as 50 inmates of Kakkanad district jail tested positive. Two of the prison staff also tested positive.


As many as 45 inmates, including a child, of women prison in Patiala, tested Covid positive. According to media reports, there are a total of 102 inmates in Patiala women prison. All of them have been given vaccine now.


A total of 175 inmates and jail staff of Kannur Central Jail are reported to have tested Covid positive on April 26 this year. Besides this, two inmates, including a notorious burglar Devinder Singh aka Bunty Chor of Thiruvananthapuram jail also tested positive. There are over 6,000 inmates in prisons in Kerala.


About 200 inmates had tested positive for Covid in Odisha prisons in 2020 following which the government issued orders to keep them separately.

West Bengal

As many as 55 inmates and jail staff of South 24 Paragnas district in West Bengal were found Covid positive in July 2020 and were treated in the prison hospital itself.


As many as535 inmates 10 jails across the state, that included 435 were from Guwahati alone, had tested Covid positive in July 2020. Among the Covid positive inmates included social activists Akhil Gogoi and JNU student Sharjeel Imam.


According to report, 224 inmates of Araria district jail in Bihar had tested positive in august 2020.



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