‘Crime-Free’ Diu’s Heritage Prison Houses Only One Inmate

Only one prisoner is housed in Diu’s Sub Jail, and they want him moved.

3 min read
The Diu Sub Jail within Diu Fort Premises.

The collector of Union Territory of Diu, an erstwhile colony of Portugal, is campaigning hard for the title of ‘crime-free Diu’. The reason? Only one prisoner is incarcerated in its only jail, the Diu Sub Jail.

Thirty-year-old Deepak Kanji is the only prisoner in the 472-year-old facility that will soon be handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The ASI wants to turn the prison, which is a part of the Diu Fort, into a tourist site. Once Kanji’s case is heard, the ASI will move in and take over the prison, whether he is acquitted or convicted, reports the Hindustan Times.


High Cost of Operations

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Daman and Diu spend the most on their prisoners when compared to the rest of the states in India – Rs 32,000 per prisoner. This explains why there are five guards, one peon and one assistant jailor guarding the prisoner, in shifts, in Diu’s prison. The prison was built for 60 prisoners with eight cells (including an isolation cell) for 40 males and 20 females.

The Quint spoke with the Collector of Diu, Hemant Kumar, who said that to understand why Diu is crime-free one must visit the Union Territory.

The Diu Sub Jail was designated long back and the expenditure on one prisoner exceeds Rs 32,000. It goes into lakhs per month as there are 5 guards and an assistant employed to watch over him. That is why we had requested to other counterparts (prisons) in Gujarat to take over the prisoner. The talks are still on, but we cannot shift the prisoner without the court’s permission as he is an undertrial. Ideally the case should wind up by the end of July or by August first week.
Hemant Kumar, Collector, Union Territory of Diu

Heritage Cell

Entry to the Sub Jail is barred for tourists who visit Diu Fort.
Entry to the Sub Jail is barred for tourists who visit Diu Fort.
(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2013, the ASI had put in a request to bring the prison under their umbrella as a heritage site, to promote tourism. Back then, the prison had seven prisoners including two women. Four of these prisoners were moved to Amreli prison, which is located around 100 kms away from Diu, and two completed their terms. Only Kanji remained as he is still undertrial for poisoning his wife; his case is being heard at Diu Sessions Court.

According to Hindustan Times, there is no clarity on whether the prison was always treated as a prison. Since being built by the Portuguese, the complex also houses a bakery and a kitchen, and the vacant cells remain locked up. Tourists are allowed in the fort but are barred from the prison premises.

Once the prison is taken over by the ASI, they plan to start a light and sound show.


Doordarshan and Evening Walks

Diu Fort which also houses Diu Sub Jail is a famous tourist attraction.
Diu Fort which also houses Diu Sub Jail is a famous tourist attraction.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@trivedirajneesh)

According to the Hindustan Times report, Kanji lives in a cell meant for 20 persons where he can watch Doordarshan and some spiritual channels on TV. He reads Gujarati newspapers and magazines through the day and between 4 pm and 6 pm, the guards take him out for a walk. During walks, Kanji discusses the fate of his case with the cops.

The assistant jailer Chandrahas Vaja told Hindustan Times that since Kanji is the sole prisoner at the facility, the prison cannot organise social programmes. Even the food is arranged from a restaurant near the fort.

Kanji now has the unique distinction of being the sole inmate and probably the last prisoner of a Portuguese-era heritage prison before it is swept under ASI’s banner.

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