Monday, May 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab jails criminal ‘contact points’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
An alleged drug smuggler, while on bail, goes across the border, arranges his next consignment of drugs, manages its delivery and organises its distribution among his agents before returning to the prison.

This is not an isolated incident of its type.There have been instances when both undertrials and prisoners, including couriers of smugglers, by managing to get released on bail or parole, commit crimes and return to their place of detention.

This new trend, which has been picking up, is not only indicative of the “growing laxity in the prison administration” in Punjab but also of the increasing use of the latest devices, including cellular phones, by “influential” inmates of jails in the state.

While the use of cell phones, which started from Amritsar and gradually spread to Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda, has remained unchecked in the prisons, including the state’s only high-security jail at Nabha, a new trend of induction of first timers into bigger crime by getting them released on bail or parole has started.

The trend was allegedly set in motion by “repeaters”. Take the case of Jassa, who, after managing to escape from Nabha jail, was allegedly involved in a murder case in Ludhiana and was subsequently apprehended.

Nabha ,being the only high-security jail in the state, has 40-odd top militants lodged there. Besides, some hardcore criminals, too, are there.

The jails, instead of being transformed into reform houses, are now being used as “contact points” and major “recruitment centres”.

Recently, a jail-break conspiracy was uncovered at Bathinda. An undertrial, who had earlier escaped from police custody, was said to be the brain behind this conspiracy.

Besides, maintenance and facilities inside jails have been deteriorating at a rapid pace. There has been an indefinite strike in Kapurthala jail since Friday last following the death of an undertrial, Gurnam Singh, for want of “timely medical aid”.

The question is not of posting of medical staff or provision of funds for basic amenities. Reports indicate that it is “dreaded or hardcore criminals” who, allegedly in connivance with officials, are basically running the jails in the state.

For example, some known smugglers, either undertrials or convicts, manage to come out of jails as and when they want, organise their clandestine activities and return to their detention centres claiming legal immunity for their actions during their “leave”.

Though the state government is aware of both the “laxity” and “maladministration” in jails in the state, little has been done to stem the rot.

Though jail officials reject the allegations relating to “laxity” or “mismanagement of jails” on the plea that the Police Department wants direct control and supervision over them, they admit that there are several problems being faced by them.

The foremost of these problems is that of overcrowding. They maintain that efforts are being made to keep the hardcore militants and criminals segregated, but there are occasions when they have to be taken out together for production before courts or even for medical examination.

They say once someone is released from jail, on either parole or bail, it is the police which has to keep watch on him. Under the parole rules, they maintain, the convict has to get his attendance marked daily at the police station concerned. “If he is indulging in subversive or smuggling activities during his parole or bail, it is with the connivance of the local police for which the prison staff cannot be blamed,” they say.

The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, told The Tribune that a decision had been taken in principle to appoint a senior police official head of the Prisons Department.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |