HYDERABAD: Prison authorities in the state did ‘strip search’ of prisoners, including undertrials, brought to jails for alleged involvement in crimes. The ‘humiliating’ practice was prevalent in all the jails in the state even as the prisons department continued speaking about various reforms.
There were 50 prisons across the state, including three central and seven district ones. About 1,400 personnel manned the prisons. In 2017, there were 68,369 prisoners.
The ‘strip search’ practice dating back to the colonial period continued in the State. Anyone brought to a prison was asked remove his clothes, including undergarments, in the presence of prison guards.
There were no exemptions. “The police arrested me claiming I was selling tobacco and the court convicted me for two days. When I was taken to the prison, the authorities asked me to remove all my clothes. It was too humiliating,” claimed Mohd Fareed, a pan shop owner.
Another person, Ahmed of Bibi-Ka-Chasma, who was convicted for the same offence, was asked to manually clean toilets in the prison.
“In the past, it was done in open halls at the entrance gate. Now, separate compartments have been set up, following complains,” said a senior prison official.
The exercise was repeated whenever a prisoner got back after attending court trial. “Mobile phones, ganja, cigarettes, drugs and other articles are smuggled into the prison. To avoid it, we conduct a strip search,” explained IG Prisons Akula Narasimha.
Smuggling of drugs was a global problem in prisons. To keep drugs and also mobile phones at bay, authorities in several countries installed x-ray body scanners. Similar, equipment was also installed at airports in the country where officials of law enforcement agencies check persons suspected to be smuggling gold.
Narasimha said they were now planning to procure body scanners and install them at prisons in the state.
“Yet there would be situations when we have to strip search prisoners, especially hardcores, for they have numerous ways to smuggle in drugs,” he added.
He cited a few cases where a few smugglers were found concealing ‘ganja balls’ in their anus and ejecting them in prison toilets....