Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir are having gala time in prisons. From exclusive rooms to colour Television sets, the militants are enjoying all electronic gadgets from mobile phones to coolers, music systems etc inside the prisons and the shocking aspect is that it is happening in high profile Kot Bhalwal prison where dreaded foreign and local terrorists are housed.
One must not forget that the three top Jaish-e-Mohd militants who were released in Kandhar plane hijack crisis were also lodged here while several attempts to escape by digging tunnels have been foiled. The facilities, no doubt, were provided with the connivance of the prison staff however the whole story unwrapped when a new prison officer during a surprise check encountered mobile phones in the prison in use by militants.
Following investigations disclosed that two mobile phones with Airtel numbers were in use of a foreign militant Mohd Farooq and a local. The foreign militants had passed it on to one undertrial, Gurmeet Singh in prison last month as he was being shifted out to Punjab prison following clashes between local and foreign militants in past few months. The shocking aspect is that at least 650 calls and SMS were traced on the said mobile tele- phone 99068-72239 since August.
Investigations have disclosed that the said militant wanted the SIM card to be destroyed to block the numbers of the persons to whom the calls were made and received but after a foreign militant asked him to keep the number, he passed it to an undertrial, who, police investigations disclosed, used to charge Rs 100 per call to lend the phone to other inmates running a parallel PCO inside the prison under the nose of the security personnel.
The investigating agencies are in the process of tracing name and addresses of the persons who had called on the mobile or received calls.
Another mobile telephone number 99061-48770, was recovered from a Hizbul Mujahideen militant Mohd Altaf Choudhary of Rajouri. He had been in prison for last four years. He is a former head constable of Security wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police. He was arrested in a plot to assassinate former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. He had been designated as ?Mukhia? (chief) by the militants and other detenues in the prison.
Interestingly, both the numbers are issued by the said phone company in the name of an army soldier Naresh Kumar of Rashtriya Rifles, posted in Baramulla and an under-trial Sanjeev Kumar Samyal of Samba, lodged in a jail for last three years in a murder case. Police are also investigating as to how the numbers issued in their names reached militants.
Use of mobile phones by militants in Jammu and Kashmir is common but when they use them inside the high security prison premises, it could be matter of serious concern exposing lapses in security checks.
Meanwhile, sources in prison have admitted that the smuggling of mobile phones inside the prison was impossible without the connivance of the prison staff. How did the phone reach the militants when every visitor to the prison undergoes stringent security check.
The security lapse in Kot Bhalwal prison is not new. Only recently, the authorities had unearthed the smuggling of Rs 35,000 to militants inside the prison by an outsider who during his confession said that he had smuggled money on several occasions in past too.
Meanwhile, a high level inquiry has been ordered by the authorities and jammers have been put inside the prisons all over the state to block the phone calls from mobiles. Even the prison staff has been asked not to carry cell phones inside the prisons during the working hours.