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Kerala prisoner calls home as Amphalla jail becomes first in J-K to have inmate calling system

News Agencies | Updated on: 3 October 2019, 14:45 IST
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Kerala native Jatan, lodged in a jail in Jammu, heard the voice of his wife and minor daughter for the first time in nearly four years -- thanks to the authorities introducing a first-of-its-kind prison inmate calling system, which allows prisoners to make long-distance calls.

He is facing charges under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and lodged in district jail Amphalla, which is the first prison in Jammu and Kashmir to get the facility along with modern interview rooms on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.


Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Gita Mittal inaugurated the facilities on Wednesday evening in presence of DGP (prisons) V K Singh and other senior civil and police officers.


A total of 587 prisoners are lodged in Amphalla jail in the city. Facing imprisonment thousands of kilometers away from his home town, Jatan was the first to utilise the inmate calling facility and he talked to his daughter who was just two months old when he was arrested in Jammu.


"My parents have visited me a few times over the past three-and-a-half years but this facility has reunited me with my wife and daughter, and I am very thankful to the prison authorities for providing such a facility to us," Jatan told PTI after talking to his family for 10 minutes.


Jatan, who was working as a salesman at a jeweller shop in his city before his arrest, has now become a painter taking advantage of the efforts being made by the jail authorities for the reformation of inmates through different vocational training programmes and educational courses.


He said when Kerala was recently hit by floods, he was very much worried and the only contact with his family was through his lawyer but he too was not available all the time. "With this facility, not only we can know the welfare of our families back home, but we can also contact our lawyer to know the progress of our cases," Jatan said.


The DGP (prisons) said the inmate calling system was set up by Indus, a firm based in Ambala (Haryana), free of cost but the users would be charged an economical amount which will generate revenue for the firm.


"This is part of the continuous efforts to provide better facilities to the prisoners so that they come out as totally reformed persons and contribute to society and the nation in a positive way," he said.


Singh said a prisoner can talk to two close relatives, a lawyer or a doctor for five minutes on each selected days but those involved in heinous cases, whether an undertrial or a convict, need special permission from the jail superintendent concerned otherwise the facility would not be made available to them or those showing misconduct in the jail.


About the new sound proof interview cabins, the DGP prisons said it is part of modernizing the interview rooms with the state-of-the-art facility to provide better environment to the inmates during their meeting with their relatives.

“The state-of the-art technology was used to make the walls sound proof to eliminate noise disturbance during such meetings. The inmates and the visitor will share a cabin separated by a transparent glass and a simple iron grill. They will use telephone to talk with each other, while if a child is accompanying any visitor, there is a child friendly corners with toys,” he said, adding that the chief justice of the high court had put forward this idea during a recent visit to Central Jail Srinagar.


He said district jail Amphalla was selected as the first location for the project which will be extended to two other locations -- Central Jail Kotbalwal Jammu and the Central jail Srinagar -- shortly.

“We are also going to create a facility just like Tihar jail which has got various manufacturing units and recreation facility in the form of Tihar School of Art," he said. Welcoming the initiative, Justice Mittal said she felt proud of inaugurating the facilities which will restore the dignity and respect of the prisoners.

"Prisoners should not be deprived of his or her rights and facilities and our effort should be to minimize the problems and remove the hurdles in the way to ensure speedy trial of their cases," she said. Proprietor of Indus firm Mahi Paul said the finger print of the inmate along with telephone numbers of his close relatives are fed into the machine and a profile is set up which opens with the finger touch of the inmate.

“After the finger touch, the machine identifies the prisoner and his name is highlighted on the screen. The telephone numbers, however, remain hidden for secrecy and flashes only when the prisoner wants to dial that number,” he said adding the call gets disconnected automatically after the completion of the time duration.

He said such a facility is already available in various jails across the country, including Haryana and Punjab, and is a great success because it has not only helped the inmates to lower stress level but also brought down the rush of visitors to the jails.

"We are not charging anything for the machine and the prisoner is free whether he want to use the facility or not. Like the daily use articles which he or she gets from canteen or outside, we are providing our service at the rate of Rs 2 per call,” he said.

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First published: 3 October 2019, 14:45 IST