GUWAHATI, July 23 - The Assam government will release 376 prisoners in the next few days to decongest jails across the State after 535 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, an official said on Thursday.
Of the 376 prisoners to be released, 111 are presently lodged in Guwahati Central Jail, he said.
The rest of the prisoners are now lodged in the district jails of Nalbari, Dhubri, Karimganj, North Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Diphu and Udalguri, he added.
Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Das told PTI that 535 prisoners in 10 jails across the State have been affected by the pandemic. The highest number of 435 are from Guwahati.
Das said the authorities were releasing prisoners at regular intervals according to the direction of the Supreme Court to decongest the jails and another set of inmates will be released soon.
�The High Powered Committee formed after the SC set the guidelines met yesterday. We have sent a proposal to release 376 prisoners from eight overcrowded jails. This includes 111 inmates from Guwahati Central Jail,� he said.
�So far, we have released a total of 6,801 prisoners since March to decongest the jails. This includes 6,671 undertrials, who were released on bail and personal bonds. Out of these, 2,000 undertrials were released at one go in the initial period,� Das said.
Another 115, who are convicts, were allowed to go home on annual leave, while 15 more were released on parole, he added.
Every eligible convict gets 30 days of annual leave for emergency purposes according to the rule.
�Since March we have been taking various measures proactively to make our jails coronavirus free and we succeeded to a large extent. But after the first case on June 4, the inmates got infected, mostly in Guwahati,� the IG, Prisons said.
Das said a 200-bed Covid Care Centre (CCC) has been set up inside Guwahati Central Jail to treat asymptomatic prisoners and the authorities are creating a second such facility at Nagaon Special Jail. � PTI
Staff Reporter adds: The Gauhati High Court today directed the Jail authorities to file an affidavit vis-�-vis the steps taken in view of increasing number of inmates testing positive for COVID-19.
The Court today observed that since the jail manual mandates restricted entry, it is apparent that appropriate precautions were not taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the jails.
It has also directed the Inspector General of Prisons to file his personal affidavit stating existing number of positive cases in each of the jails, precautions taken before the inmates were tested positive, steps taken to disinfect the prisons including the kind of medical care provided to the inmates.
The High Court asked the IGP to state as to how many COVID-19 positive inmates are asymptomatic and symptomatic.
The next date for hearing has been fixed at September 8.