Pradeep Pattanayak

In the wake of a group clash between Chakara and Shambu gangs in Jharpada jail in Bhubaneswar, the Odisha jail authorities suspended Warder Prabhat Kumar Maharana and Chief Warder Manguli Sethi. The reason for placing them under suspension is said to be administrative grounds and dereliction of duty. 

Jharpada jail is regarded as a high-security jail in Odisha, where many notorious criminals are lodged. Common knowledge would force anyone to believe that it is a high-security place with foolproof surveillance and enforcement. 

However, the recent group clash that occurred late on March 18 laid bare some grim realities. The clash broke out over alleged illegal narcotics trade being operated from the jail. Earlier on March 3, an inmate fell unconscious after consumption of excess narcotics. 

Also Read: 20 inmates to be shifted from Bhubaneswar Jharpada jail: Odisha DG Prisons

These two incidents, made many question if the Jharpada jail has become a safe haven for criminals who are making the prison a narcotics hub. 

Following the March 18 incident, a team of Commissionerate Police led by DCP Prateek Singh conducted a surprise check at Jharpada jail. The team comprising five ADCPs, 13 Inspectors, 20 Sub-Inspectors and four platoons of force searched all the 35 male wards in five blocks, the female ward, 21 cells, kitchen, common area, theatre and the peripheral areas of the jail.

DCP Singh had then said, “No such prohibited materials were found inside the jail, except for a small amount of Ganja, khaini, beedi, chillam and lighter.”

DG (Prisons) Amrit Mohan Prasad had said, “We are taking steps. We are carrying out departmental investigations into what happened inside the Jharpada jail. Action will be taken against those found guilty in the incident.”

Subsequently, Warder Prabhat Kumar Maharana and Chief Warder Manguli Sethi were suspended. Given such serious lapses in one of the top prisons of the state, action against the Warden and Chief Warder, has led many to question if they have been made scapegoats to protect seniors? 

It remains to be seen if any further action will be taken to prevent such lapses in future.