By Siraj Khan Nepalgunj, Dec. 25: Nepalgunj Prison has a capacity to accommodate only 350 inmates, but at present it has 814 inmates, more than double its capacity. According to Ram Kumar Sonkar, chief of the Nepalgunj prison, there was a shortage of rooms as the rooms where female prisoners were kept was used as quarantine after the COVID-19 pandemic. Stating that there is a problem in the management the larger number of inmates kept in the congested jail, Sonkar said that the situation was unimaginably unbearable.
“Management of the prisoners is becoming very challenging as they have been managing by constructing temporary structures inside the prison. But now we do not have a place to construct any additional temporary structure inside the prison,” he informed. According to the prison management, it is difficult for the inmates to sleep during the rainy and cold weather. The inmates are deprived of even the basic services that should be available in prisons. The office has been using the women's cell as a quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection to the new inmates.
Sonkar said that the women prisoners are sent to other districts for one or two days. “We have been relocating female detainees to Bardiya and prisoners to Surkhet and other districts due to lack of space here,” he said. Human rights organisations have repeatedly called for monitoring the prisons and managing them to the best of their ability to ensure basic services to inmates. However, the prison administration has not been able to assure it properly.
“Prisoners also have rights, so the prisons should be run according to standards, their human rights should be protected,” said rights activist Basanta Gautam.