In response to criticism over the shocking death of Sunil Balyan, alias Tillu Tajpuria, inside the high-security Tihar Jail premises in New Delhi, allegedly by members of a rival gang, authorities have announced procurement of tasers, pepper spray for safety against unruly inmates, report said on Thursday.
In the initial phase, three jail complexes will be equipped with 80 electric shock batons (tasers), 160 full-body protectors, 80 pepper sprays, and 160 T batons, according to a Times of India article.
While concerns regarding excessive use have been raised, these non-lethal tools are known for their effectiveness in subduing offenders without causing fatal harm globally, it said. The move aims to enhance the safety and security of prison personnel while ensuring the well-being of inmates.
“We moved the proposal 15 days ago to the authority concerned," an officer was quoted as saying, adding they have so far procured 160 (each) polycarbonate lathis, shields and helmets. “The procurement will be done soon, and as per the capacity of jail complexes, it will be given to staff and QRT members," he said.
Prison officials told the publication that tasers would be a transformative tool in maintaining law and order within correctional facilities and curbing the activities of rogue criminals. As altercations involving multiple inmates pose significant challenges, officials emphasise that tasers would provide a vital means to control such situations without resorting to firearms, they said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to enhance security measures within jails, the Union Home Ministry has instructed central jails to develop a biometric system for inmate monitoring, replacing traditional physical headcounts, a CNN-News18 report said earlier in the day. Additionally, the ministry has urged the exploration of a hybrid model to separate jail management and security responsibilities.
As per CNN-News18 reports, the majority of central jails in various states are in the process of implementing biometric systems to ensure accurate attendance and monitoring of prisoners, complementing physical counts. The proposed separation of management and security tasks, with jail staff overseeing management while external security forces handle prison security on a rotational basis, is being considered by jail authorities across states.
These directives have been shared with state police chiefs and prison director generals, prompted by concerns over incidents of violence and security breaches reported from jails nationwide.
In recent incidents that shocked the nation, Tihar Jail, one of Asia’s largest prison complexes, witnessed the horrifying stabbing deaths of alleged gangsters. In a highly disturbing crime caught on camera, Sunil Balyan alias Tillu Tajpuriya was ruthlessly stabbed to death by rival gang members. Shockingly, several jail officials were accused of silently observing the brutal act, leading to the suspension of nine personnel after a departmental inquiry. Another alleged gangster, Prince Tewatia, met a similar fate earlier in April within the highly fortified prison.
The deaths in Tihar follows the 2021 incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot Jail, in which two individuals fell victim to gun violence, believed to be connected to ongoing gang rivalries. One of the victims was a close associate of incarcerated gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari.
The National Crime Records Bureau data on prisons highlights a concerning trend. Inmate deaths in Indian jails rose by 12.1%, with a total of 2,116 deaths reported in 2021 compared to 1,887 in 2020. Among these, 185 deaths were classified as unnatural, including suicides, murders by fellow inmates, accidents, assaults by external elements, and cases of negligence.