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Prison staff-inmate nexus: Authorities stay insouciant

SHILLONG: The ‘laissez faire’ attitude of the jail authorities in Meghalaya is turning into a cause for concern with several cases being detected of alleged nexus between jail staff and inmates.
A series of cases have been reported, some in the past and several of late, where cash and cell phones have been recovered from the jail inmates.
On March 16, the nexus between the jail staff and militants lodged in Shillong district jail came out in the open with the arrest of two jail staff – Phrangsngi Kyndiah and Rupam Kuri. They are still in police custody.
The two staff were arrested after police foiled an attempt by two GNLA sympathizers – Amar Thapa from Assam and Niksang Marak from Baghmara – to smuggle cash into the Shillong district jail meant for GNLA militants lodged inside. The duo was arrested and Rs.50, 000 in cash was recovered from them.
The arrested persons later revealed that they had been assured by some jail staff that the money could be delivered to the inmates.
A search of the jail yielded a mobile with SIM card which was being used by three inmates – William Sangma, Anthony Marak and Johny Marak – to communicate with the outside world.   ) Incidentally, on February 24 last, a woman in Shillong had lodged an FIR against William Sangma for calling her posing as a self-styled eastern commander of GNLA and demanding Rs. 3 lakh. When police tracked the phone, they realized that Sangma had made the call from inside Tura jail. He was subsequently arrested on March 5 by a police team from Shillong and brought to Shillong jail.
It turned out that Sangma was the self-styled commander-in-chief of ANCA and had been earlier arrested in Chennai.
East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police M. Kharkrang had, recently, admitted that the arrest of the two jail staff was an indication that the inmates lodged there were getting assistance from the jail staff.
Kharkrang asserted that police can only investigate when the matter is brought to their notice and further stressed that people manning jails should be vigilant to ensure that there were no lapses.
Even after the infamous Shillong jailbreak of May 31, 2009, there has been no end to reports of nexus between the jail staff and the inmates as sporadic cases of breach of jail manual continue to be reported.
The jail break of May 31, 2009 resulting in the escape of seven under trial prisoners led by their gang leader Fullmoon Dhar revealed that they had access to cash, mobile phones, guns and liquor inside their prison cells.
There have been as many as 30 jail breaks in Meghalaya since 1991 with the worst jail break occurring on December 26, 2001 when all 32 inmates of Williamnagar jail managed to escape.
In 1995, dreaded HNLC leaders Cheristarfield Thangkhiew and Bobby Marwein along with a group of Naga militants had made a daring escape from the Shillong jail.

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