GUWAHATI: Barring the COVID-19 drive at the Silchar Central Jail and Kokrajhar District Jail, vaccination is a nonstarter in the 29 other jails in the State. Of late, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a missive to the IG, Prisons, (Assam Prisons Headquarters) to carry out vaccination in all jails in the State on a priority basis.
The nonstarter of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in 29 prisons in the State is viewed as neglect on the part of those at the helm of affairs.
An NGO brought the matter to the notice of the Gauhati High Court that was prompt enough to take suo motto cognizance of it. The High Court asked the State Government to file an affidavit to it within three weeks stating "what measures it has taken for the vaccination of prisoners and prison staffers in the State".
Meanwhile, the MHA also sent a letter to the State IG, Prisons to carry out vaccination drives in all the jails in the State.
The order sent by the MHA to the IG, Prisons reads that "all eligible prison inmates may be provided vaccination on a priority basis in consultation with State Health Authority by setting up special vaccination camps in prison complexes. Prison staffers may be encouraged to receive vaccines on a priority basis".
On visits to the jail inmates, the MHA encouraged video calling or mobile phone chatting instead of a physical visit.
Sources said that the IG, Prisons has asked all deputy commissioners of the districts to do all to vaccinate the prison inmates and prison staffers of the State in their respective jurisdictions.
Assam has a total of 31 jails – six central jails, 22 district jails, one special jail at Nagaon, an open-air jail in Jorhat and a sub-jail at Haflong.