Some persons were seriously injured during clashes in Dum Dum prison on the outskirts of Kolkata on Saturday, reports said. Prisoners attacked jail officials with bricks, ransacked furniture and set fire in some places, alleging that neither were they being produced in court for a trial, nor were they allowed to meet their family members, the Hindustan Times reported.
Three persons were killed in the clashes, a report by Sangbad Pratidin said.
At least 283 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India so far, and four people have died. There have been three cases of the coronavirus in Kolkata so far.
“Because of coronavirus outbreak courts are closed and family members are not being allowed inside the prisons as a precautionary measure,” West Bengal Correctional Home Minister Ujjwal Biswas said. “The inmates want that they should be released and have resorted to violence. We are looking into the matter.” An unidentified senior police officer said tear gas shells had to be fired to bring the situation under control.
The prisoners had also demanded that the jail authorities provide them masks and hand sanitisers because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The clashes broke out around noon. Police personnel, Rapid Action Force personnel and fire tenders were rushed to the jail. Residents of the area said they saw smoke billowing out of the jail grounds and heard shots. However, the police have not yet confirmed whether they used gunfire.
“Fire tenders are working,” West Bengal Fire Minister Sujit Bose said. “Not all places could be accessed. We are trying to bring situation under control.”
A senior official of the West Bengal Correctional Services Department had said on Friday that family members have been barred from meeting inmates till March 31 to enforce social distancing norms, PTI reported. Family members can now only call prison authorities to inquire about the inmates.