New Delhi: Of the over 6,000 inmates who were released during the two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic to decongest Delhi’s jails and prevent the spread of the infection, at least 3,000 inmates have failed to surrender.
The prison department of Delhi has requested the Delhi Police to trace the inmates and facilitate their surrender at the respective jails. Police sources told The Sunday Guardian that many of the inmates who jumped parole and bail have got involved in criminal activities. This has led to an increase in Delhi’s crime rate.
Delhi has seen an increase of 25-35% in criminal activities like robbery, snatching and crimes against women in 2021 compared to last year, as per the data shared by the Delhi Police. “In view of the increasing criminal activities, the Delhi Police are deploying patrolling parties across the city to prevent these kinds of criminal activities,” an ACP rank official of South Delhi district told The Sunday Guardian. The crime data released by the Delhi Police revealed that more than 63,000 theft cases have been registered this year with an increase in burglaries and motor vehicle thefts. This is an increase of more than 6,000 registered cases compared to 2020.
According to data shared by the Delhi Prison Department, a total of 6,740 inmates were released on interim bail and parole from three prisons—Rohini, Tihar and Mandoli. The process to grant parole keeping in view the pandemic started in the second week of April 2020. Around 5,500 undertrials were released on interim bail, while 1,184 convicts were released on emergency parole. In March 2021, they were asked by the respective courts to surrender, but many haven’t reported back to the jail authorities.
“The police headquarters was not in favour of releasing the inmates as many of them are repeat offenders and we thought that they would get involved in criminal activities once again; our apprehensions came true as many of them went on to join criminal gangs and are indulging in offences,” a senior Delhi police officer told The Sunday Guardian. “We are seeing an increase in crime rate because of this, while many of them have moved to other states and it’s difficult to trace them now,” he added.
In Delhi, the whole exercise of releasing prisoners started when more than 300 inmates and 180 staff members got infected with Covid-19 in different jails. The Delhi government set up a high-powered committee after the Supreme Court suggested that state governments should release prisoners in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The local police stations to which the prisoners belong are carrying out surprise searches at their addresses and using technical surveillance, hoping to catch them. Jail authorities are also checking records as it is possible that some of the undertrials might have been given regular bail by the courts concerned. Every inmate, who returns to the prison, undergoes a mandatory rapid antigen Covid test. They are sent on a 10-day quarantine at a specially designed prison near the Mandoli jail, irrespective of the test result. With a total capacity of around 10,000 inmates, Tihar in Delhi is one of the largest jails in the world.