Dubious distinction:35 prisoners died inside Tihar in 2013.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Dubious distinction:35 prisoners died inside Tihar in 2013.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The number of deaths inside Tihar Central Jail here doubled last year compared to 2012.

Thirty-five people died in judicial custody in 2013 compared to 18 in 2012 and jail insiders attribute it primarily to lack of medical facilities and improper surveillance inside.

Of the 35 inmates who died in 2013, two committed suicide — including Ram Singh, an accused in the December 16 gang-rape — and two were murdered. The remaining 31 died of different medical conditions.

The authorities claim that most deaths inside the prisons were natural and medical evacuations are prompt.

“There is a 150-bed hospital in central jail no. 3 and dispensaries attached to other jails,” said a jail official.

Medical facilities inside the jail were revamped in 1996 after Justice Leila Seth reviewed the facilities in the wake of the controversial death of Kerala-based business tycoon and biscuit king Rajan Pillai inside Tihar.

Justice Seth had suggested the need for a thorough overhauling of arrangements in prisons to provide medical care and facilities. She found that most prisons were not equipped with an effective communication system for informing the authorities concerned in case of a medical emergency.

Besides establishing such a system, inmates must be thoroughly briefed about how to seek medical aid in case of emergency, she had suggested.

Insiders, however, say that despite implementing all the required systems, it still takes 45 minutes to an hour to provide care to patients in case of an emergency, especially during night hours.

Last year, two murders were reported inside the jail. In one incident, an inmate named Mohammad Javed was brutally murdered during roll call. A resident of Seelampur, he is lodged in jail in connection with a murder case.

The jail authorities were tight-lipped over the matter and said the magisterial inquiry is still pending.

In 2012, 16 inmates died inside the jail due to undisclosed reasons and two prisoners committed suicide.

Magisterial inquiries were conducted into every death, but the reports in the suicide and murders cases are yet to come.

As many as 14,000 prisoners are lodged in the nine jails of Tihar, of whom 600 are women.

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