Srinagar, Aug 14: Jails in Kashmir are turning into new hotspots of COVID-19 as 102 inmates have tested positive for the infection at Srinagar Central Jail.
Superintendent of Central Jail Srinagar, Tej Ram Katoch told Precious Kashmir that 102 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We started random testing of inmates on August 7 after three medicos and two paramedics discharging duties in the jail tested positive for the infection,” he said, adding that they are isolating all such inmates.
Of those who have tested positive in the jails, 75 are undertrials, eight convicts and 19 are under preventive detention. The highly- fortified jail houses around 490 inmates.
A similar situation had also arisen at district jail Anantnag last month as 86 inmates had tested positive in the prison.
The first prisoner to test positive for the COVID-19 virus in Anantnag jail was Zahoor Ahmad Bhat of Trehgam, Kupwara. Bhat was detained under Public Safety Act in 2018 and since then he is under preventive detention.
This newspaper has learnt that three PSA detainees from Kashmir also tested positive when they were being lodged in jails of Jammu province.
The detection of large number of COVID-19 cases in Srinagar Central Jail has raised questions on COVID-19 control measures adopted by the Prisons Department in Kashmir.
As part of COVID-19 control measures, a high-level committee was constituted by the government earlier this year for decongesting prisons.
The committee constituted on a directive from the Supreme Court maintained that the release of detainees under the PSA did not fall within the terms of the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.
The panel made this observation after the Chief Justice of the J&K High Court referred a representation to it for the release of a detainee.
Interestingly, the government has shifted 69 PSA detainees from jails of Kashmir Valley to prisons of Jammu province.