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 Relations between India and Peru  are united by El Niño and the monsoon yet separated by vast distances across oceans.  Jorge Castaneda, Ambassador of Peru to India, talks to INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS exclusively about what is bringing the two geographically-apart countries closer.
 
read-more
Indian judge Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice on Monday as the UN General Assembly rallied behind him in a show of force that made Britain  bow to the majority and withdraw its candidate.
 
read-more
Those with a resolve make a big difference to the society. They inspire others to make the best out of a bad situation, steer out of morass with fortitude. Insha Mushtaq, the teenage girl who was pelleted to complete blindness during 2016 emerged as a classic example of courage.
 
read-more
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have "great potential" and they could work together at a "practical level".
 
read-more
This week a major United Nations gathering on climate change gets underway in Bonn, Germany.
 
read-more

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to build India's global appeal for investors seem to have finally yielded returns in terms of the country's performance in the World Bank&rsquo...

 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.