The Jammu and Kashmir government is looking to emulate the Gujarat model of exclusive prisons for terrorists to prevent them from recruiting hundreds of inmates otherwise at risk of extremist radicalisation.
The state is hopeful of getting a Rs 7-crore grant from the Centre to set up such a facility in Srinagar.
The strategy was first mooted by BJP president Amit Shah when he was Gujarat’s home minister and the union ministry of home affairs under Rajnath Singh sent an advisory last year to all states to set up separate jails for terrorists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat, had given the nod for such a prison in Gandhinagar that could accommodate 600 prisoners, to be built at a cost of Rs 20 crore.
PROPOSAL UNDER CONSIDERATION, SAYS GOVT OFFICIAL
Shah had said if terror convicts and ordinary inmates shared the same prison, there was a chance that the average prisoners could turn into sleeper cells for militant groups.
Sources in the union home ministry said the J&K’s PDP-BJP government has come up with a plan and asked for funds. “To begin with, they want to set up such a prison in Srinagar. If it works, they can extend it to other cities. The proposal is under consideration,” said a government official.
IDEA BEHIND SPECIAL PRISON
The state government was provoked to consider a separate prison for terrorists following intelligence reports that some inmates in Srinagar’s central jail were being indoctrinated by militants.
In a letter to all state governments and union territories last year, the ministry of home affairs said there was an urgent need to decongest jails by setting up secure prisons for terrorists and terror accused outside the city.
“If that is not feasible, then very high risk prisoners and other under trial prisoners under the category of terrorist/security suspects are required to be segregated effectively from the ordinary prisoners within the complex of central and district jails,” the communication said.
The ministry had also asked states to ensure restriction on movement of high-risk prisoners within the jails and their mixing with other inmates even during transit to court, hospital, etc. “To avoid the chance of indoctrination, ban on possessing objects that could potentially be used to harm others, arrangements of court’s hearing through videoconferencing in case of high-risk prisoners,” the letter said.
RISE IN NUMBER OF INDIGENOUS MILITANTS
The move to have separate jails for militants in the conflict hit state has been floated at a time when the recruitment of local youth into terror outfits has increased in the last couple of years.
There are fewer terrorists from Pakistan in J&K but there has been a steady rise in the number of indigenous militants. Sources said rough estimates put the figure anywhere between 80 and 100 at this time.
However, though the number of Pakistani terrorists active in the state has not gone up, infiltration from across the border has risen this year. Till the end of April, 26 successful bids from Pakistan were made, according to Home Ministry data. With the number almost matching last year’s total tally of 33, there is growing concern in the intelligence setup.