A gangster was even allowed to build a temple inside Sitamarhi jail. This was revealed in a joint report by the Sitamarhi district magistrate and superintendent of police after a violent clash between policemen and prisoners, mainly supporters of two gangsters - Santosh Kumar Jha and Madhav Choudhary - inside the jail earlier this month.

Bihar Inspector General (Prisons) Prem Singh Meena said Jha and Choudhary were found to be involved in illegal activities inside the jail. An official said that in the report that it was called a prison "but there is nothing to suggest that it is a prison".

According to the report, the prisoners loyal to Jha and Choudhary used mobile phones inside the jail, and liquor and other banned items were also made available. Choudhary managed to get a generator installed in the jail, provided ceiling fans in every ward and got his ward paved with tiles.

Both Jha and Choudhary installed air-conditioners in their ward during summer. What surprised prison department officials was that Choudhary was busy constructing a temple inside the jail.

“Masons, laborers, and construction material like cement, tiles, sand and bricks had unchecked entry into the jail,” an official said, referring to the report. “We were shocked to learn about unlawful activities by Jha and Choudhary inside the jail in connivance with Sitamarhi jail officials,” Inspector General Meena said.

Meena said that the department will take administrative action soon. Three officials, including the deputy and assistant superintendents of Sitamarhi jail, were suspended on charges of negligence of duty and jail superintendent Avinash Kumar was transferred. When Meena ordered the shifting of Jha and Choudhary from Sitamarhi jail, their supporters clashed with officials and pelted stones at them on 10th August,14.

The Sitamarhi jail is not isolated. Prison department officials said the use of mobile phones was common in Beur jail in Patna, and in central jails in Gaya, Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur.

“Access to liquor, mineral water, cell phones and pornography is possible if an inmate bribes jail officials and policemen,” a prison official said. In the past, raids in jails have led to the seizure of television sets, mobile phones, imported liquor and cigarettes.

Criminals-turned-politicians like Pappu Yadav, Anand Mohan and Mohammad Shahabuddin hit the headlines for holding durbars (courts) inside jails. A few years ago, then Bihar director general of police Anand Shankar had directed policemen to stop providing mineral water to inmates and stop befriending them.

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