Byculla Jail COVID-19: The deadly wave of coronavirus raging through Maharashtra, making it the worst-affected state in India, has reportedly reached Mumbai’s Byculla Jail. 40 inmates, including former media executive Indrani Mukerjea, have tested positive for the virus, as per reports. Media quoted authorities saying they have been shifted to a quarantine facility.
Mukerjea, who has been in prison since 2015, is a prime accused in her daughter Sheena Bora’s case of alleged murder. More about her here.
“Most of the 40 inmates are asymptomatic. They were shifted to the isolation centre of the prison at Patankar School in Byculla in Central Mumbai as a precautionary measure,” an official said Wednesday, according to news agency PTI.
A Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) was conducted for prisoners Sunday, after a female inmate was found to be infected. Over 600 persons were tested – including female and male inmates, and prison staff – out of which reports say 40 women tested positive. They will reportedly be shifted to hospitals nearby.
When SheThePeople reached out to Byculla for comment, a representative refused claims of inmates having contracted the virus at all. “No one has tested positive or been shifted. They have just been placed in quarantine separately.”
Byculla Jail COVID-19: What Is The Condition Of Other Jails?
Byculla Jail, located in the city’s posh south environs, is originally meant to house 462 prisoners. As per Hindustan Times, it is currently overreaching above its capacity, with 306 female inmates and 203 male ones. Officials told the publication that jails in the state with highest active COVID-19 cases are Yerwada, Kolhapur and Thane prisons.
Earlier this week, it was reported that 30 inmates out of total 1900 at Aadharwadi jail in Maharashtra tested positive for the virus and were shifted to a civil hospital in Thane, which is working as a COVID-19 care centre for affected prisoners.
A report last year by National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) titled Status of Covid-19 in Indian Prisons stated that over 300 prisons out of India’s total 1350 had been affected by the COVID-19 wave. “Among the Covid-19 infected prisons, 52 prisons had overcrowding from 101 percent to 312 percent,” the report claimed.
There has been a drive to decongest India’s prisons in light of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year. Measures in some major cities like Mumbai and Delhi, such as urging those out on bail to not return right now and releasing those accused of less serious crimes, have been adopted. Only earlier this week, a plea before the Delhi High Court observed that prisoners on interim bail must be released to de-crowd the premises.