Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today asked the State’s Home Department and the Police to expedite the review of the cases of youth who have been booked on charges of stone-pelting between 2008 and 2014.
She said such youth who took to the wrong path inadvertently have to be given an opportunity to restart their lives as productive citizens so that they can rebuild their careers. “Home Department and the Police should expedite the process of taking a holistic review of the cases registered against the youth between 2008 and 2014 for stone-pelting and decide on merits how many of such cases can be withdrawn to give these young boys an opportunity to begin their lives afresh and live as productive citizens,” Chief Minister said while chairing a high-level meeting here this morning regarding bringing about Reforms in J&K’s Prisons.
Chief Minister has also sought a report, within two days, about the nine youth presently lodged in various jails in cases pertaining to stone-pelting, as was revealed in the meeting by the Director General Prisons. Chief Minister asked the Director General Police to take up the matter regarding deportation of a deaf and dumb and mentally deranged Pakistani national to his country who is lodged in a jail in the State for having accidentally crossed the LoC.
“Why has been the person kept in jail for so long, when he is not only deaf and dumb, but mentally deranged also,” she asked and said the State and its law enforcing agencies shouldn’t be seen acting in such a callous manner and be more humane in their approach while dealing with cases of such physically-challenged persons. Stressing the need for review and upgradation of the Jail Manual in the State, the Chief Minister said the review, which is already over due, should be aimed at making the prisons centres of reformation and not the places of punishment.
The Chief Minister also called for identification of alternate site in the periphery of Srinagar city for shifting of Central Jail Srinagar from its existing location in Kathidarwaza area of Shahr-e-Khaas. She asked Director General Prisons to coordinate with the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir for identification of an alternate site and come up with a report within seven days. She said once the Central Jail Srinagar is shifted from the present location, the existing establishment in the Old City could be converted into a multi-utility recreational-cum-sports facility while some part could be also developed as an exclusive Handicrafts Promotion Centre.
The Chief Minister said directions have already been given regarding identification of suitable land in the winter capital also for shifting of the Central Jail Jammu from the core area of the City. Stressing the need for imparting skill training to the jail inmates, the Chief Minister said the Government would bring the jails under the purview of the integrated Skill Development Mission. She said Financial Commissioner Planning & Development Department and Commissioner Secretary Industries and Commerce Department will coordinate the skill training of the jail inmates by establishing institutionalized Skill Development Centres in various jails.
“We should try to make productive use of the time the inmates spend in prisons by imparting them education and skill training so that once they come out, they gel with the social milieu immediately and earn respectable livelihood,” she said and added that efforts should be made to match the trades in which training is imparted to the needs of the society so that on release from prisons these individuals can not only adjust in the society but also get gainful employment.
Ms Mehbooba said some of the jail inmates can be also trained in making furniture and furnishings and if they are able to produce quality products, the Government Departments will be asked to make maximum purchases of furniture and furnishings from such jails which have developed the capacity for large-scale production. Chief Minister also asked the Youth Services and Sports Department to create additional sports and recreational facilities in the jails for the inmates. She said the period spent by under-trials and convicts in jails must be utilized to the benefit of the inmates.
Responding to the plea of Director General Prisons that there were not many qualified teachers and Vocational Training Instructors available in jails, the Chief Minister asked the Commissioner Secretary Education and Secretary Technical Education to provide the necessary staff to all the jails and also design a sustainable and workable educational curriculum for the inmates. She also called for providing adequate medical, correctional and supervisory staff to all the jails. She also called for organizing regular health awareness programmes in the jails.
The Chief Minister said the new Jail at Pulwama, to be opened soon, should become a model of reformation and a model prison instead of being a traditional jail. Earlier, the Director General of Prisons, S P Vaid, through a detailed Powerpoint Presentation, informed the Chief Minister about the status of various jails, the number of inmates, infrastructure requirement and other issues related to prison management in the State.
DG Prisons said there are presently 14 jails in J&K, out of which nine are in Jammu and five in Kashmir with a total lodging capacity of 3031 inmates. He said 3 new jails are coming up at Pulwama, Bhaderwah and Kargil. DG said 2367 persons including 2268 males and 99 females are lodged in various jails of the state. These include 192 inmates involved in militancy related cases and 2170 in common law cases.
The DG informed that under the Reformation Programme, 97 jail inmates are enrolled in basic literacy programme, 103 under adult continuing education programme and 85 under IGNOU courses. He said 39 inmates also appeared in university and board examinations in 2015.
Similarly, he said under the vocational trainings 30 inmates have been trained in cutting and tailoring, 20 in carpentry, 68 in cloth manufacturing, 17 in carpet weaving, 14 in candle making, 17 in electrician, one in house wiring, 3 in Darri making, 11 in paper bag making, 16 in hair cutting, 25 in cooking, one in knitting, 24 in pipe band making, 5 in crewel work and 5 in confection.