Jails are reform centres, not torture cells

ADITI TANDON’s special investigative reports on the pathetic condition of jails in Punjab, entitled “From behind bars - I, II and III” (July 2, 3 and 4) deserve to be appreciated. The Centre and the states are doing little to improve the condition of the jails and their inmates. The worst sufferers are the children of women undertrials and criminals. Even though they have not committed any crime, they have to spend the formative years of their life behind bars along with their mothers.

These are the precious years when they have to shape up their personality and future behaviour. Their innocence is being robbed by the hostile jail environment. If these children are not given proper care and affection, they will tun out to be hardcore criminals. As we study human behaviour, most criminals have a wounded background. Prisons are meant to reform criminals and not to make criminals.

To deny a woman basic necessities like clean toilets, privacy, sanitary napkins etc. is ruthless, as the writer has rightly pointed out. If society is giving them this shabby treatment, how can we expect them to show good behaviour after they walk to freedom?




The shocking condition of jails in Punjab, as highlighted by Aditi Tandon in her reports, is highly deplorable and underscores the imperative need for prison reforms.

One is shocked to learn that more women are resorting to crime and jails add to their trauma. There is no floor underneath and no roof overhead. Children also suffer with their mothers in the jails. How come no authority in Punjab has ever bothered to take note of these problems and do the needful? Clearly, the authorities concerned are insensitive and inhuman towards those languishing in the prisons.

As for the state of affairs in Ludhiana’s all-women jail, industrialists should come forward and donate liberally to improve the sad condition of the jail.

Lt-Col ONKAR CHOPRA (retd), New Delhi

Prison security

I read B.K. Karkra’s piece on gallows (June 27). As I had been a Jail Officer, I am fully aware of the security arrangements of a jail. I, therefore, do not agree with him that he entered the area of condemned cells of a Central Jail, moved there for quite some time, came out and all this went unnoticed.

The area in the condemned cell is known as “Kumhar Ahata” and is again a closed area within the jail regularly guarded by security guards. Therefore, entering, moving there and coming out unnoticed of that area can only be a day dream.


Parking blues

While the Himachal government claims to promote tourism, it fails to provide parking to more than 2,000 tourists’ vehicles that arrive in Shimla daily. I faced a harrowing experience recently. I was forced to return to Gurgaon as I couldn’t park my car in Shimla.

After driving for several hours, I reached Shimla at 9 a.m. But below Leela Hotel on Cart Road, a DSP with 5-6 traffic cops prevented me from driving uphill to hotels as they lay in restricted area. Without permits, vehicles are not allowed in these hotels, I was told. It being a Sunday, how can a tourist obtain the government permit?

I learnt that while these hotels’ parkings were duly sanctioned by the Town & Country Planning Department and Municipal Corporation, the government has cancelled their permits. Why is the government not allowing vehicles to go up to these hotels (having their own parking) on the restricted road? In fact, they help ease the parking problem. The government should put signboards on restricted roads, displaying the number of vehicles allowed in these hotel parking.

The government should construct parking lots in various areas apart from making mandatory for hotels to have parking. The police told me to park in government parking, but it was full. Same is the case with Life, Holiday Home, Lakkar Bazar and railway parking. I was not allowed to park on the roadside either for fear of it being towed away or challaned. Disgusted, I had to return to Gurgaon.

G. SINGH, Gurgaon

Tax assessment

There was a report on tax assessment quoting the Local Self Government Minister. Before giving concrete shape to the proposal, the Minister should check the efficiency of services rendered by the municipal councils.

Are services like sanitation, water supply, road maintenance and street lighting satisfactory in the 83 towns where there is paucity of funds? The municipal councils, being elected bodies, must talk to people, remove their difficulties and only then ask for help from government and the people.


Raw deal for small farmers

According to a report in The Tribune (April 28), India has achieved the distinction of becoming a trillion-dollar economy. Its GDP is now worth Rs 41,00,000 crore and the list of its landmarks is growing. However, has the growth in agriculture and economy of its 80 per cent small and marginal farmers, who are the main producers of food, fat and fibre, improved? The answer is an emphatic ‘No’. Their economy is in doldrums.

The burden of heavy indebtedness is rapidly compounding and has become the main reason of farmers’ suicides in many parts of the country. The governments at the Centre and in the states are represented by a majority of the farming community. However, they continue to remain quite insensitive to the problems and sufferings of small and medium farmers, who find it difficult to make both ends meet.

J. L. DALAL, Former Director, Agriculture (Haryana), Chandigarh 



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