Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh: Man behind the model jail in Amritsar
to the lack of planning by the bureaucracy, our villages are
still light years away from being self-sufficient abodes.
However, in the backdrop of this grim scenario, we do come
across a few bureaucrats who keep us away from pessimism and
defeatism. Allow me to introduce one such bureaucrat in Punjab.
Pratap Singh, an IPS officer, is often ridiculed for being
cynical. And why not, as he is always swimming against the tide.
Whichever posting was given to him, he always took it up with
zeal and with the spirit of a crusader. It was he who unearthed
the kidney scam in Punjab. He fought against the system which
was protecting the guilty. The kidney scam reached the courts
only because of his relentless efforts.
is posted as DIG-cum-Superintendent of Amritsar Central Jail. It
is for the first time that this jail is being termed as a model
jail. And the entire credit goes to the efforts made by this
young officer. A jail which was plagued by groupism and unionism
amongst the staff, anarchy among prisoners and chaos at large is
today being talked about as the first model jail of Punjab.
has displayed a fresh perspective in handling prisoners. He has
initiated various steps for the overall welfare of the
prisoners. Right from educating them to the fair handling of
their cases, imparting them vocational training and taking care
of their mental health, he has worked on all aspects. He set up
a legal aid cell to provide free legal aid to poor prisoners who
have been languishing in the jail for years for facing charges
of petty crime. This resulted in the release of 350 prisoners
within a year. In this effort, many NGOs as well as lawyers
joined hands with him.
Again, it is
for the first time that this bureaucrat succeeded in roping in
Guru Nanak Dev University to open an educational centre on the
jail campus. It also goes to the credit of the Vice-Chancellor,
S.P. Singh, who has taken personal interest in this centre,
which will impart free vocational education to prisoners. The
centre was inaugurated by Kiran Bedi. The vocational courses
include dress designing, fabric designing, television
maintenance, tailoring and cutting, computer and electronics
training. In addition, the illiterate prisoners will also
benefit from the recently launched literacy campaign.
Jail inmates receive training in computers
working on computers is a reality in Amritsar Jail, thanks to
State Bank of India which donated five computers in addition to
the 15 installed by Guru Nanak Dev University. Qualified
teachers are training prisoners in computers. The university is
running certificate courses at the centre. Vijay Pratap got a
portion of the jail converted into a school block, which now has
five classrooms, one library, computer lab and a teachers’
room. Interestingly, the principal of the school is a qualified
PhD under trial.
It is common
knowledge that a majority of the jails in the country are a hub
of drug trafficking. The end result is that a large number of
prisoners end up as drug addicts. This was the case with the
Amritsar jail too. However, Vijay Pratap took this challenge
head-on. He identified drug suppliers, corrupt officials and
even members of the medical staff who were involved in this
racket. He took multi-pronged action to tackle this menace. To
break the nexus, he not only transferred the guilty but also
registered cases against them. Effective supervision checked the
supply and intake of drugs.
also set up a de-addiction centre within the jail with the
co-operation of the Civil Defence and Rotary Club, Amritsar.
Within a year more than 100 hardcore addicts have been cured of
drug addiction. Incidentally, this is the first de-Addiction
centre in any Punjab jail. Yoga and meditation have also been
introduced in the jail, the classes for which are being run by
the Chaturvidh Yoga Ashram in the city.
The initiatives taken by him
within Amritsar jail have got him an award from Indian Vision
Foundation, an NGO founded by Kiran Bedi.