HYDERABAD: According to a report, which the deputy commissioner, Fayaz Ahmed Jatoi, submitted to the home ministry on June 29, the Central jail is housing 2,612 inmates and the Nara jail 665. Their capacity is 1,527 and 300 prisoners, respectively.
The report pointed out that the prisoners are cramped in the jail cells, due to a shortage of space, amid the soaring temperatures. To avoid dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes, a majority of the prisoners were administered intravenous fluids.
With the heatwave still see-sawing, the overcrowded prisons in Hyderabad have become a health risk for the prisoners due to the unavailability of cool water and proper meals. At least four prisoners, including two young men in their twenties, died in the Central jail during the heatwave last month. The patients, although diagnosed for hepatitis and HIV, have not been checked for tuberculosis and other illnesses.
A reverse osmosis plant is installed in the Central jail but a water cooling system is not available, due to which the prisoners do not have access to cold water. The deputy commissioner said that his administration will provide two water cooling machines to the Central jail. He added that the works department has assured that portions of the fallen outer walls will be rebuilt within a week's time.
The DC said the jail administrations informed him that they receive food budget as per the official capacity of the inmates, but since both the prisons are housing almost double the size of their capacities, the allocated sum falls short of meeting the prisoners' food requirements. However, he added, the prison officials claimed that they mostly meet the food shortage with the support of well-off people.
"The condition of Nara is better than the Central jail," said Jatoi while comparing the two prisons. "It will take regular inspections to improve the condition of the prisons."
The Baloch regiment, Qasim Rangers, frontier constabulary and the district police are deployed inside and outside the prison to assist the jail police in maintaining security.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.