New Delhi: Violent clashes broke out on Saturday between prison inmates and jail officials at north Kolkata’s Dum Dum Central Jail over the rising COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic scare. The clashes, according to reports, broke out as the prisoners were angry over not being allowed to meet their family members in the wake of restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus crisis. Also Read - West Bengal, Maharashtra State Boards Postpone Exams Amid COVID-19 Scare
Several people, including both prison inmates and jail officials, were injured in the clashes which began at around 12 noon today.
Inmates-who ransacked furniture, attacked jail officials with bricks and set fire in some places within the jail-had been demanding an immediate bail so that they could go home and be with their families instead of being locked up with others in a closed environment in the cell, thus increasing the risk of them contracting the infection.
Then, the authorities on Friday stopped the practice of letting inmates meet their family members, to minimise the risk of the spreading of the virus. The practice has been stopped till March 31.
Another cause of the inmates’ anger, which contributed to today’s violence, is said to be an offer of 15-day parole to prisoners who have spent more than 10 years in the jail and have a clean record. Additionally, the inmates had also demanded masks and sanitisers to protect themselves from the virus.
Following the outbreak of the violence, a large contingent of the police, Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel as well as fire brigade tenders were rushed to the spot. Senior jail officials, police officers and Sujit Bose, the state fire minister, too, arrived at the spot to take stock of the situation.
West Bengal has thus far reported three confirmed cases of coronavirus.