The Samajwadi Party on Thursday termed the incident in Uttar Pradesh, where two prisoners were seen brandishing pistols and threatening the state government, as an “open challenge” to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“Anything can happen in UP jails,” the Samajwadi Party said in tweet. “ It’s an open challenge to the CM from the Unnao jail. In the Rae Bareli jail, criminals are holding a court. The chief minister’s jail is in the pocket of criminals.”
The party’s spokesperson, Sharvendra Bikram Singh, also said prisoners were challenging Adityanath.
The Uttar Pradesh government initiated an inquiry after the video of the incident was widely shared on social media. “In the probe, it was found that the incident took place in collusion with some jail officials to put pressure on the jail administration,” Additional Director General (Prisons) Anand Kumar said.
The Uttar Pradesh Home Department said the pistols were fake and made of “clay”. They claimed it looked real as one of the two inmates was a “good painter”.
The video showed inmate Dev Pratap Singh brandishing a pistol. After reciting poetry on camera, he said, “I am Dev Pratap Singh, also known as Gaurav Pratap Singh.” Asked about his imprisonment, Singh said: “Jails are our offices.”
Another inmate, Ankur, also holding a pistol, said: “Anyone can be killed in the jail. If the order is issued, anyone can be killed outside too. Whether in Unnao or Meerut [jails]. This name [Ankur] is a brand.”
An inmate who identified himself as Amrish Bhatipura said that the Adityanath government had jailed him but had been unable to make his life miserable either in Unnao jail or in Meerut. “We will turn this place into an office,” he added. He also showed a pouch he was carrying, which appeared to be drugs. The video also showed inmates discussing drinking liquor.
Arvind Kumar, principal secretary, home and prison departments, said that the video had been shot during winter. He added that four jail employees made the video. These were head wardens Mata Prasad and Hemraj, and ward boys Awadesh Sahu and Saleem Khan. A departmental inquiry was ordered against the four suspects and their services may be terminated, Kumar added.
The principal secretary also said that a mobile phone was recovered from the jail premises in March. He said the video was shot on the same mobile phone and made viral three months later.
Jail Minister Jai Kumar Singh Jaiki said that the four jail officials had been transferred, and the inmates seen in the video would also be transferred, ANI reported. He added that Deputy Inspector General (Lucknow Range) Rakesh Shanker has been tasked with the investigation.
Uttar Pradesh minister Siddharth Nath Singh said the government had taken cognisance of the video and strict action will be taken against the culprits. “In days to come you will see no such small incidents will exist as nobody is allowed to take law in their hands in Yogi Raj,” he added.