Corruption puts Kasempur jail at risk

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Rozina Islam | Dec 06, 2014

Irregularities, bribes and technical weaknesses have put Kasempur jail at security risk. Corrupt officers and employees of the jail make a total of about Tk 2.2 million just in bribes from the families visiting the inmates every month. Basically this has made security lax.

This was revealed in the report of a government agency last month. The report highlighted six serious irregularities, including serious allegations of torturing inmates and showing videos of this on cell phone to the family members of the inmates in order to extract payment from them. This is an extreme violation of human rights, the report said.

The report stated, there were about 5000 prisoners in the Kasempur jail at Gazipur, including about 150 militants such as Harkatul Jihad leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, Ansarullah Bangla team leader Jasimuddin Rahmaniya, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) acting Amir Sayeedur Rahman, as well as 13 accused of crimes against humanity, political prisoners, VIPs, etc. Despite directives, there are no special security measures for them when they are transported from jail to court and back. Financial irregularities have caused the state of security to deteriorate. The intelligence report says that this is a threat to security.

The report, sent to the prime minister’s office, recommends that departmental action be taken against corrupt personnel of the jail. Also, rather than keeping them at the four internal jails (Dhaka central jail part-1, part-2, high security and women’s central jail), they should be, transferred to others jails, the report recommended.

Shawkat Mustafa, head of the committee against irregularities and corruption in jail, and additional secretary of the home ministry, told Prothom Alo, “The heavyweights tempt the officials and the officials fall prey to temptation.” He admits that the officials are involved in irregularities, saying if any commits crimes, they will not be spared. He said that after further investigations, action will be taken against the concerned persons.

Irregularities: The report said that the jail guards torture the inmates and film this with their cell phones. They then show this to the families of the inmates and extract money from them. They take collect a minimum of Tk 1.6 million to Tk 2.8 million a month from visitors. In this regard, they collect from Tk 800 thousand to Tk 1.2 million from the part-2 jail alone.

According to the report, one has to pay about Tk 200 to Tk 500 to meet with a common prisoner. In the case of VIPs, this could be anything between Tk 20 thousand to Tk 40 thousand, according to the circumstances. And one pays Tk 10 thousand to visit inmates in hospital.

Again, even after being released by the court, the prisoners face all sorts of problems. If freed by the court or released on bail, the prisoners are not given their deposited possessions. They are told that there are problems with the bail bond or the release documents and are made to pay anything to Tk 2000 to Tk 20 thousand, according to the category of prisoner. If the prisoners apply for a transfer to their own district or jail of their choice, they are accused of various crimes under the prison code so they have to pay a sum of money to be transferred. And the prison guards take advantage of the corruption of the higher officials, to indulge in corruption themselves.

Accusations against the jailers: Each of the four jails at Kasempur has separate jailers and jail supers. The report stated that the jailers take Tk 20 thousand to Tk 40 thousand from the top criminal convicts every month. Every jail has two canteens, one in the jail and the other outside. The jailers collect Tk 20 thousand from the outside canteen and Tk 50 thousand from the inside canteen every month.

The report mentioned Jannatul Farhad, the jailer of the high security prison. Last Eid-ul-

Azha he took money from the imprisoned Jamaat-Shibir leaders and activists to pay his fare to go home on the holidays.

Jannatul Farhad told Prothom Alo, “If they can prove even the slightest truth in this report, I will resign. I went home after 15 years. Would I need held for this?” He said, “An intelligence agency worked her for a month and a half. One of them wanted a list from me, which I couldn’t provide. That is why they are now making allegations against me.”

However, he did admit there were some irregularities in the jail. He said, “Some prisoners try to talk over cell phone while in jail. Some of my prison guards are involved in this. Some drugs were found inside the jail too. I punished 13 jail guards over the past one year.”

Lack of security: The report said, though it was stated that special security measures had been taken in the transporting of three militant leaders to and from court, they were just given normal security. They pointed to the incident where a member of police was killed and three JMB leaders snatched away.

The report recommended an increase in security at Kasempur jail. It said that prisoners being transported to and from court should be strongly guarded from the back and front and they must be cuffed and shackled.

The report also recommended an increase in jail personnel, metal detectors, mobile jammers, CC and IP cameras. It was also said that the bio-data of visitors should be taken to ascertain their identity and their mobile numbers should be kept and tracked if necessary.