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Tamil Nadu - Madurai Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

An extremely tough job

S. Vijay Kumar

MANAGING EXTREMISTS in custody appears to have, of late, become an uphill task for law-enforcing agencies.

Even in the prison, the extremists give a tough time to the staff often objecting to mandatory checks, frisking operations and access control. The altercation between some prisoners, accused in the Imam Ali escape case, and officials on Thursday was one of many instances in which the extremists locked horns with police officials.

Such "misunderstandings" or "non-cooperation" led to serious consequences in the past, including a murder. An Assistant Jailor, S. Jayaprakash (44), was hacked to death in daylight in front of the jail in September 1997.

Investigations revealed that the official had entered into a heated argument with a fundamentalist after he objected to the routine frisking. The police also seized a letter in which the prisoner had written about the "ill-treatment" meted out to him by the Assistant Jailor to his associates.

On many occasions, extremists have complained of human rights violations against them by the police or prison officials. Many a time, they have filed written complaints before the designated courts of handcuffing/harassment by escorting police personnel. However, the police/prison officials maintained that they were only following the procedures laid down by the law.

"When escort norms are eased or relaxed, the prisoners tend to make the best use of it. For instance, when an armed gang lobbed country-made explosives on police personnel to free two extremists, Imam Ali and Hyder Ali, from custody at Tirumangalam on March 7, 2002, fleeing became easy for them since their handcuffs were removed enabling them to have a lunch," says a senior police official.

One extremist accused of several grave offences went to the extent of threatening a judicial officer with "dire consequences" in the open court after she refused to take notice of his grievance and directed him to represent through the lawyer.

In the Madurai Central Prison where 23 extremists have been lodged in hi-security blocks, trouble arises when routine and surprise checks are conducted. "Since iron rods and twisted aluminium plates were found in the toilets in the Coimbatore prison a few years ago, we leave no stone unturned during checks. The fundamentalists get annoyed when their family members are subjected to frisking," says P. Munivelu, Superintendent, Madurai Central Prison.

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