Agra: Seventy-one prisoners were released from the Agra district jail Sunday as part of an attempt to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak on the premises. The prisoners, who faced relatively minor charges like theft, robbery and dacoity, included 60 men and 11 women.
The prisoners have been released on short-term bail for 56 days, after which they will have to return to the jail. The Agra district jail is one of the country’s most overburdened prison systems, with 3,000 prisoners crammed into a facility meant for 1,135, a source in the jail administration said.
The Supreme Court had, earlier this week, directed all states and union territories to constitute high-level committees to consider releasing, on parole or interim bail, prisoners and undertrials accused of crimes entailing a jail term of up to seven years in a bid to decongest prisons in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court had taken suo motu notice of overcrowding at jails as India and the world at large battle the pandemic.
‘More prisoners to be released’
Sources in the jail administration said a total of 350 prisoners will be released over the next few days as a measure to further decongest the prison and comply with social-distancing norms prescribed for coronavirus prevention.
Among the prisoners released, a senior jail official said, the women hailed from Shahganj and Lucknow, and the men from “different parts of India such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan”.
“All of the released prisoners will be taken to ISBT Agra and from there to their respective destinations in buses,” the official added. Since bus transport remains suspended in light of the 21-day national Covid-19 lockdown, the administration is likely to arrange special buses for the inmates. One of the women released, he said, also had her year-old son with her.
One of the prisoners’ brother, Vijay, said it was a relief she had been released for the time being.
“We were worried for her because of the lockdown and the coronavirus outbreak,” Vijay added.