Sunday 9 May 2021
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3,468 Tihar Jail inmates go missing while on Covid-19 parole

Tihar Jail authorities have sought the help of Delhi Police to track down 112 convicts who have failed to turn themselves in. In 2020, the courts had directed prison authorities to release at least 1,184 convicts on emergency parole to avoid overcrowding amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of these inmates were lodged either at Tihar, Mandoli or Rohini jails.

Officials now confirm that 1,072 of these convicts have either surrendered or completed their sentences. However, 112 convicts are yet to surrender. Their names and details have been shared with the Delhi Police in a bid to track them down.

Similarly, a total of 5,556 undertrial prisoners were released from the Tihar Jail in Delhi on emergency parole last year. As many as 2,200 of them have returned to the prison while 3,300 undertrial prisoners are yet to turn themselves in.

A list of undertrial prisoners, who have not surrendered, has also been shared with the Delhi Police.

Officials also said that some undertrial prisoners are in the process of turning themselves in while others might have obtained regular bails from the courts. This is being ascertained, added one official.

Most of the released prisoners were suffering from some severe chronic illnesses like HIV, TB, Cancer, Asthma, Hepatitis B or C and even kidney dysfunction requiring dialysis. They were released on parole considering the subsequent spike in Covid-19 cases.

With a cumulative capacity to hold more than 10,000 inmates, Tihar Jail in Delhi is one of the largest prison complexes in South Asia.

High-powered committees set up by state governments were tasked with laying down criteria for the release of convicted and undertrial prisoners to decongest jails. The decision was taken in accordance with a suggestion by the Supreme Court in March last year.

The jail authorities said that the prisoners were initially released for eight weeks last year. Later as the Covid-19 situation worsened, their release was extended. The prisoners were expected to surrender between 7 February to 6 March 2021, however, 112 out of the 1,184 went missing.

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