FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Protect prison massacre witnesses
Posted:Sep 8, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
No efforts should be spared in apprehending those responsible for firing shots at the residence of Railway employee Sudesh Nandimal Silva, a vital witness in the November 2012 prison massacre. The shots were clearly aimed at instilling fear in the witness who was an inmate at the Welikada prison when armed police, while putting down a prison riot, is alleged to have executed 27 inmates. It was one of the blackest episodes in the country's penal history that can only be compared to the prison massacre during Black July, where over 50 LTTE detainees were butchered to death by fellow inmates, ably assisted by prison officials. If such prison massacres of the magnitude witnessed in both instances occurred in India, the Justice Ministers would have resigned pronto. However, neither the Justice Minister in 1983 or the minister in 2012 did anything of the kind and continued merrily as if nothing occurred.
 
 
Since the shots were fired close to midnight, when the witness was asleep, it was not meant to kill but warn the latter to keep mum. There had also been attempts to abduct him on three occasions after he accused the previous regime of the massacre. He says, attempts were being made to shield the culprits by this government, since no action was taken to inquire into any of these incidents. His claim cannot be dismissed lightly in the backdrop of other accusations too made by the supporters of the Yahapalanaya government, no less, of attempts being made to protect important figures of the last regime accused of murder and corruption.
 
The Welikada prison massacre had many features that led to the inescapable conclusion of a planned operation to silence certain inmates who knew too much, for the liking of certain VIPs. In the heat of the massacre, a senior police officer, close to the leaders of the government, lost no time in reading out from a list of the prisoners who perished, which included notorious criminals and drug dealers, as per the account of the police officer, to create the impression that this was good riddance. The chapter was closed thereafter, with little or no action taken to get to the bottom of matter, like all other investigations into incidents of a suspicious nature, such as the Thajudeen murder. Like the Black July massacre, no one was held accountable and investigations commenced in earnest only after advent of the new government. A report on the matter was compiled by former Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe wherein compensation was recommended to the next of kin of those killed. Nothing much has been heard of since, and it looks as if this is going to be yet another unsolved crime, unless concrete steps are taken to identify those who gave orders to open fire at the prisoners.
 
Be that as it may, our prison system needs a complete overhaul. Prison overcrowding is still a phenomenon that the authorities are grappling with, although it has to be said that Minister Swaminathan has endevoured to improve things and make prisons less inhospitable than they are. Proper rehabilitation of prisoners too should be given the utmost priority to ensure that inmates, once they leave the four walls of the prisons, will be productive citizens and shorn off the stigma that was once attached to them. Steps should also be taken to have frequent family reunions for prisoners, especially those serving sentences for minor offenses. In some of the advanced countries the term ‘prison’ has already been discarded and instead establishments where small time offenders are held named as ‘correction centres'. These are mostly open air expanses where the inmates have more freedom of movement and opportunities to intermingle with others and not feel the full impact of being a prisoner. Such a setup will be welcome here as well.
 
However, the authorities should also have special monitoring in the case of serious offenders, especially given the recent revelations of the subterranean life in the prisons. It is no secret that, for some, prisons have become a home away from home, even masterminding drug running operations and contract murders from within the four walls of the prisons. Even in the recent prison bus massacre in Kalutara, instructions had been received from a gang leader behind bars. There was also an instance where an inmate was allowed to leave the prison to attend the birthday party of his child. Needless to say, collusion by corrupt officials is today rampant in our prisons, with most prisoners allowed to have an ‘open line’ with their outside contacts, family members and monitor their drug distribution networks. Drugs and sleaze within prison walls are all too common today with officials looking the other way. Prisoners who are first time offenders are invariably drawn to the vice, rampant in our prisons, become hardened by the experience and add to the world of crime, once they leave the prisons. All these factors should be taken into consideration when effecting the proposed reforms to our prisons system.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, is a former top diplomat who retired as India's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. In his new political avatar, as an important minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Puri told INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS that
 
read-more
Aimed at consolidating cooperation between the armed forces of India and Saudi Arabia and explore new avenues of defence cooperation, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, visited Saudi Arabia on from 4-8 February 2018, writes Anil Bhat
 
read-more
Campus placement season is here and the news is that graduates from the top campuses in India, especially the IITs, have received six figure pay packets and job offers in the US. However, looking beyond the top 200 engineering schools in India, pay packets are not looking too promising. The reason is the emergence of new engineering sc
 
read-more
Representatives from ten Asia Pacific governments, parliaments, civil society organisations (CSOs) and international institutions - including from six South Asian countries - gathered in Bangkok to reflect and share knowledge and learnings on climate change finance and gender-inclusion as part of the Regional Dialogue on Climate Resili
 
read-more
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen “conveyed that mediation was not wanted at this stage” when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to him last week, Guterres's spokesperson Stephane Dujrric confirmed Thursday, writes Arul Louis
 
read-more
Srinivasan leaves his office in Bengaluru where the lights and air-conditioners are switched off when sensors planted inside notice that he is leaving. He is prompted on his e-watch as to how much time it would take for the elevator to arrive on his floor, based on movement-recognition, writes Rajendra Shende
 
read-more

The Indian government is undertaking a project to enhance and install infrastructures related to trade and customs along its northeastern frontier, that include trading points with Bhutan.

 
read-more

Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre held a lecture in the “China's Belt and Road Initiative: Nature, Implications and India's Response”

 
read-more
Column-image

What is history? How does a land become a homeland? How are cultural identities formed? The Making of Early Kashmir explores these questions in relation to the birth of Kashmir and the discursive and material practices that shaped it up to the ...

 
Column-image

A group of teenagers in a Karachi high school puts on a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible— and one goes missing. The incident sets off ripples through their already fraught education in lust and witches, and over the years ...

 
Column-image

Title: Do We Not Bleed?: Reflections of a 21-st Century Pakistani; Author: Mehr Tarar; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 240; Price: Rs 599

 
Column-image

From antiquity, the Muslim faith has been plagued by the portrayal of Muslim men regularly misusing this perceived “right” to divorce their wives instantly by simply uttering “talaq” thrice.

 
Column-image

'Another South Asia!' edited by Dev Nath Pathak makes a critical engagement with the questions about South Asia: What is South Asia? How can one pin down the idea of regionalism in South Asia wherein inter-state relations are often char...