Inmates deprived of basic facilities in overcrowded Morang PrisonThe prison is accommodating inmates more than three times its capacity.
The male block of Morang Prison has the capacity of accommodating 250 inmates. But the prison block is housing 926 prisoners at present.
In the lack of space, the inmates have to take turns to sleep during the night or use the toilet.
“The temperature has been surging in recent days. The prison rooms are overcrowded and are not properly ventilated,” said Abhishek Giri, a guard at the prison. “Every day, inmates faint due to high temperature and suffocation.”
There are 18 rooms, including a store room and a toilet, in the male block of Morang Prison.
“Up to 120 prisoners are crammed in a room meant for 40 people. The prisoners are forced to sleep in the corridor, on the roof and above water tanks due to the lack of space,” said Giri. “Almost half of the prisoners are unable to sleep when it rains.
According to him, even those prisoners who get to sleep in the rooms are unable to get proper sleep due to space constraints. The inmates who do not get a turn in the night sleep during the day time.
Keeping inmates safe from various contagious diseases like Covid-19 in the crowded prison is a great challenge. According to the prison administration, a total of 61 inmates in the prison are suffering from fever at present. They are isolated in two rooms, said Giri.
On Friday, 16 inmates tested positive for Covid-19 while one died of the disease while receiving treatment at Koshi Hospital.
The situation of the female prison block is no different. The block has the capacity to accommodate 50 people but is currently holding 85 inmates and a baby.
The prisoners have to endure hardships to avail of basic facilities as well. Since there are only 20 toilets for more than 1,000 prisoners, long queues form outside the toilets every morning. Giri said an inmate has to wait at least 15 minutes to get their turn to use the toilet.
The drinking water situation in the prison was similar until a few months ago. There was only one tube well for all the prisoners and the water in the well was contaminated with iron.
“But the situation has improved after two social organisations–Jiban Bikas Samaj and Forward Microfinance Company–installed taps in the prison,” said Giri.
The government authorities have received criticisms time and again for keeping inmates in ‘inhuman conditions’ in overcrowded prisons across the nation.
Kashiraj Dahal, the chief district officer of Morang, admits that the prisoners have to endure hardships in a prison stretched beyond its capacity.
“A new prison building is under construction. Living conditions in the prison will improve after the completion of the building,” said Dahal.
The existing prison buildings in Morang have the capacity to hold 300 people but over 1,000 people have been crammed into the prison. The prison is accommodating inmates more than three times its capacity.
The new building is under construction on the prison premises at the cost of Rs 350 million provided by the federal government.