Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), April 18 (IANS) Rioting broke out at the district jail here Wednesday with prisoners pelting stones at policemen and jail staff and the security forces resorting to gunfire, injuring at least 11 people, to thwart the virtual jail-break attempt, officials in Lucknow said. However, district officials here put the figure of those wounded at 150.
The mob frenzy early morning saw prisoners burning furniture and other government property in the Meerut jail, about 450 km from the state capital Lucknow. District police personnel fired several rounds to control the inmates, leading to 11 people, including three prison guards, reportedly being injured.
Reinforcements from the Rapid Action Force, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and police were called in but they were also attacked with stones and bricks by the jail inmates.
Prisons Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh said the matter would be dealt with the 'seriousness and priority' that it deserved.
Meerut District Magistrate Vikas Gothwal told IANS that a magisterial probe had been ordered into the incident.
Senior Superintendet of Police, Meerut, K. Satyanarayan said police had taken over the watch towers in the jail after the thwarted 'virtual jail-break attempt'.
PAC personnel surrounded the prison to prevent any inmate from escaping, he said.
The violence was linked to an altercation between two jail inmates Zubair and Amit who fought over a trivial issue Tuesday night, an official added.
The minor spat turned ugly Wednesday as the inmates fought pitched battle and before the guards could anticipate trouble, the prisoners took over the jail mess, turned on the cooking gas cylinders and burnt down the pantry.
Police officials reached the spot and ordered firing in the air after which the forces overpowered the irate inmates and pushed them back into barracks. Fire department personnel had a tough time dousing the fire.
This is the third jail riot in a month in the state.
A similar violent clash took place March 21 at Mau leaving two deputy jailors critically injured. The jail inmates went berserk after the death of a fellow inmate Shafiqur Rehman, 22.
The prisoners attacked the prison staff with iron rods and utensils, leaving one of the deputy jailors, Rakesh Singh, critically wounded and another, Udai Raj, with severe head injuries.
In another incident, a person was killed and several others were injured when clashes erupted inside the Basti prison March 11.
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