Srinagar: At least four more inmates lodged in district jail Anantnag in south Kashmir have tested positive for coronavirus.
Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that the jail authorities have shifted the infected persons to individual cells rather than sending them to Covid hospitals or related centres.
The fresh cases have been detected days after one inmate Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, younger brother of JKLF founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, tested positive for the virus.
Zahoor had developed related symptoms and was eventually shifted to district hospital Anantnag on July 10.
After his case, the authorities decided to test all the inmates as well as the staff in the jail.
The prison is located in Keribal area of Mattan, Anantnag.
As per sources, 192 tests have been conducted so far of which reports of 100 inmates have arrived.
At least four of them have tested positive for coronavirus.
The infected inmates are from Kulgam, Kupwara, Mattan (Anantnag), and Awantipora in Pulwama district, sources added.
A family members of one of the inmates lodged in the jail said they were really worried about their safety.
“The jail is already overcrowded. We came to know that there are about 200 inmates in the jail with capacity of just 60. It is common-sense that if one of them is positive, the rest too will catch it (coronavirus),” the family member said.
He appealed to the authorities to release on bail at least those under-trial prisoners who are unwell.
Last week brother of an under-trial prisoner in the jail told this reporter that there were “hardly any precautionary measure taken by the authorities.”
He said that due to COVID-19, the court hearings in under-trial matters have also been delayed. “My brother’s last hearing was before the COVID-19 lockdown began. Our next hearing is scheduled on August 4, and that too may be postponed,” he said.
Medical Superintendent, District Hospital Anantnag, Dr Abdul Majid Merab confirmed receiving 192 samples from the jail.
Incharge Superintendent, District Jail Anantnag Sheroz Ahmad did not respond to multiple calls from The Kashmir Monitor.
DIG Prisons, Mohammad Sultan Lone said some of the inmates lodged in the jail were high-security prisoners and the decision to shift them to a COVID hospital will be taken by the administration and the concerned SSP.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Kuldeep Krishan Sidha said that the results of 100 samples have arrived and “the rest will come by today”.
He confirmed that samples of four of the inmates have returned COVID-19 positive.
Asked whether those infected will be shifted to hospitals, the DC said that since they are detenues, the decision would be taken according to “security guidelines.”
“They have been isolated,” he said.
Comments from SSP Anantnag, Sandeep Chaudhary will be updated in this story as and when he responds to The Kashmir Monitor calls or message.
As per official figures, there are a total of 3,628 inmates in 14 jails across Jammu and Kashmir as against a capacity of 3,232.
Eighty eight percent of them are under-trials, 7% are booked under PSA, and only five per cent are convicts.