Terrorists ran ‘supreme council’ in Jammu-Kashmir jail, busted

An analysis of prisoners made it clear the hold of terrorists inside jails needs to be broken and the rule of law needs to be established

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police has busted ‘Shaura-e-Zindan’ (supreme council for jail), a term used by terrorists for governance inside prisons, and restored the prison manual completely, officials said here.

After the escape of Naveed Jhatt, a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, last February, the Jammu and Kashmir prison department under the leadership of Dilbagh Singh took a series of measures to sanitise prisons, including shifting all hardcore terrorists from the Srinagar Central Jail.

“A complete analysis of the prisoners was carried out and the message was loud and clear that the hold of terrorists inside the prison needs to be broken and rule of law needs to be implemented,” says Singh, who recently relinquished the post of Director General of Prisons, said.

However, he did not elaborate further on the measures carried out and said: “we have only ensured that hardened terrorists and separatists are segregated from those who are first-timers and have a scope of improvement.”

However, the officials in the state prison department said after Singh took charge, raids and searches were carried out regularly and hardcore terrorists were shifted to other jails in Jammu and Udhampur.

Two cases were registered at Rainawari police station which includes the one where terrorists were operating Shaura-e-Zindan inside the jail which used to decide allotment of barracks and other amenities to the prisoners, the officials said.

The Shaura-e-Zindan used to provide facilities to the prisoners based on their experience in the field of militancy, which includes food of their choice and other facilities, they said, adding Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, serving a life sentence, was the supreme commander of this group.

Now, after the crackdown and repeated searches, all private kitchens operating inside the jail premises, have been shut and all inmates queue up to the common ‘langar’ where they are served food, they said.

The Srinagar Central Jail had earlier become a hub of radicalisation which was smashed during Singh’s tenure.

There was a report in December 2017 that “sermons are given on Jihad…The basic tenets of the religion are overlooked and the emphasis is laid on radical aspects. Such religious sermons have a deep psychological impact on inmates and youths in particular who develop an inclination towards joining militancy or getting recruited as overground workers (for terrorists).”

It said the jail, which is expected to act as a correctional facility, is “instead of being used as a place of religious indoctrination and terrorist recruitment”.

“It is being observed that even petty criminal who spends some time in jails are today coming out as highly indoctrinated individuals with the religious motivation to support or even join terrorist ranks,” it said.

However, Singh ensured that there is a segregation of prisoners and people arrested for charges under terrorism or separatism are treated with a higher degree of caution and separated from inmates arrested for petty crimes.