<br>Citing security concerns, the Tihar authorities have removed more than 2,000 exhaust fans from various areas within the facility, including the small cells. Tajpuriya (33) was stabbed over 90 times using self-made weapons by rival gang members that led to his murder near his cell.
According to officials, the exhaust fans, which were potential tools for improvising weapons, have been taken down and will be replaced with plastic counterparts. The prison administration has already issued a purchase order to the Public Works Department (PWD) for the plastic exhaust fans, which are considered less dangerous than their steel or iron counterparts.
"We have given the purchase order to Public Works Department (PWD) for the exhaust fans, and soon there will be plastic exhaust fans, which are not as hazardous as the steel/iron exhaust fans," stated a senior prison official.
"The decision to replace the exhaust fans is part of a broader effort to enhance security within the prison," said the official.
The officials clarified that coolers will now only be provided to elderly inmates or those with medical conditions.
This aligns with the jail manual, which specifies that coolers should only be installed in the cells of elderly inmates and some foreign prisoners in facilities such as Rohini, Tihar, and Mandoli. Foreign prisoners were granted coolers after seeking permission from the court.
As per officials, the removal of exhaust fans and subsequent replacement is specific to Tihar Prison. Other prison complexes including Rohini and Mandoli have exhaust systems installed from outside, beyond the reach of inmates, making the removal unnecessary in those locations.
Earlier, a Delhi Court had directed the Tihar Jail authority to explore the possibility of installing a cooler inside the cell of Christian Michel James, a British citizen and an accused in the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam.
The court took note of James’ submission that his cell experiences excessive heat due to the absence of an exhaust fan.
"Needless to say that presently the summer season is at peak and the temperature is going up to 42/43 degree Celsius and the cell must have been too hot," Special Judge Arvind Kumar at Rouse Avenue Courts had stated in an order.
The jail authorities had submitted that as per a directive issued on May 5, all exhaust fans and coolers within inmates’ reach were required to be removed from jails across Delhi. This measure was implemented to prevent potential misuse of such equipment.
The officials had also informed that the jail, originally designed to accommodate 740 inmates, is currently accommodating around 3,600 inmates.
Earlier on May 8, in wake of the sensational murder of top gangster Tajpuriya, the Delhi High Court had sought response of jail authorities on the steps taken to prevent crimes including murder in the prison.
On watching the incident, which was captured in the CCTV cameras installed inside the jail, Justice Jasmeet Singh had said that it was seen that Tajpuriya was taken out of his cell and was stabbed to death.
"…unable to comprehend why no steps were taken by authorities if the entire incident was captured by the CCTV camera," he had asked.
"Totally unacceptable state of affairs," Justice Singh had told the Tihar jail authorities.
(Shekhar Singh can be reached at email@example.com)