In this jail, life drags its feet
Chandigarh, January 7
In June last when The Tribune team visited the jail to assess living conditions, it was shocked to see prisoners stacked away in pigeonhole accommodations that leave no room for sunlight or air. At that time the jail had 1,179 prisoners, only 307 being convicts.
The situation has worsened now, with the jail housing 1,391 prisoners out of which only 331 are convicts. Strangely, this jail, the oldest and the most crowded in Punjab, was meant only for 500 prisoners, its actual sanctioned strength.
But as things are the numbers are increasing, making life for inmates horrible by every standard. With no open spaces, no library and sports facility and just five toilets for 1,391 inmates, the surroundings qualify as inhuman. No wonder the jail has reported some mysterious deaths in the past, and today rioting.
While close to 45 women prisoners here live in two small rooms, men numbering thousands scramble for space in a few barracks. It’s tragic to see them when they are unlocked twice during the day, once in the morning and once at 3 pm, when they stand outside on a small muddy ground, doing nothing. Here too they jostle each other to make room. Even to stand, there’s hardly any space. To sit, there’s none.
Conditions are the worst in the kitchen area where 30 inmates are always on duty to prepare meals for the entire prison population.
The kitchen of the Jalandhar Central Jail is centuries old; some say it was built in 1834.
Since then, it has not been renovated, nor has arrangement for exhaust been made.
Jyoti Seth, a sociologist who studied Punjab’s jails for the National Commission for Women, observes: “For the large quantities of food prepared here, the facilities are far from adequate. The procedure of cooking is arduous and we could see men sweating over the food.”
In the absence of modern gadgets, men on kitchen duty take over 10 hours to prepare one meal.
Those on the night shift are the worst affected as they are up all night to cook the meal supposed to be served in the morning. As per the 100-year-old jail manual, lunch is served at 8 am and dinner at 6 pm.
Inside the kitchen, the walls are literally hinging on, their plaster falling (in fact, the entire jail building is endangered). In such conditions, inmates have to bake about 8,000 chapatis a day. Manpreet Singh, a convict and head of the jail kitchen committee had told The Tribune last year, “It’s terrible to work here. Until recently, we were using firewood for cooking. Gas has come only now. But there’s no respite”.
No wonder kitchen duty is considered the worst duty inside this jail. Inmates who don’t fall in line are sent to the kitchen, Raju, an undertrial at that time, had said.
The Tribune had in July last run a three-part series on the living conditions in Punjab jails.
Taking a suo motu notice of the stories, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the state government to list before it the facilities it is offering in jails. The case is lingering and the jail rotting as ever.
2 former cops, ex-jail staffer under scanner
Chandigarh, January 7
The two cops and the political activists are lodged in jail at present while the former jail staffer is not in prison.
Sources in the police said initial investigation into the incident has pointed finger at the two former cops.
One is a former ASI and another a former constable. Both were lodged in the jail for separate offences and were seen in the forefront of the episode.
The ASI is lodged in the prison for an alleged rape while the constable is facing case for alleged kidnapping of an Amritsar boy.
The latter case had made headlines in the national media. The ransom in the kidnapping case ran into crores and the constable was nabbed when his name was associated with it.
The names of the two cropped up in the evening as the police teams started investigations and questioned the jail staff and inmates, who were more than willing to tell the entire story.
Police officials said the magisterial inquiry ordered into the episode involving the two cops and will look into this causes and effects while making future suggestions also.
Sources said the two cops were reported to be instigating the inmates after allegations were levelled on December 28 that the hair of a Sikh inmate had been forcibly chopped off.
The inquiry will cover all aspects, including the December 28 incident of alleged chopping of hair, said a senior police official while revealing the initial findings.
The role of the former jail staff member and his interference in managing the jail nowadays will also be probed.
A few days ago, the jail staff had caught inmates using mobile phones on the jail premises.
The activists of a political party, who had been detained about two weeks ago in apprehension of a breach of the peace, had also staged a dharna yesterday inside the jail compound and this had flared up matters.
The political activists may not directly be in the forefront of causing the fire, but their role is also being probed.
Meanwhile, unconnected to this inquiry, the director-general of prisons, Mohd Izhar Alam, said there was no chance of a similar incident recurring in other jails as this was not spread.
He said there was no shortage of jail wardens.
However, sources maintained that the jails did not have adequate number of assistant sub-inspectors, who are drawn from the Punjab police for posting at the jails.
More than two years ago, it was decided to hand over the jails to IPS officers for overall superintendence.
The system continued for a few months but was withdrawn.
After the Burail jailbreak case, in which the assassins of former Chief Minister Beant Singh had escaped, the Chandigarh administration handed over the command of the prison to an IPS official.
Mann stopped from stopping Orbit buses
Moga, January 7
Members of SAD (A) stopped Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s family-owned fleet of Orbit buses from plying on roads across the state. They were protesting against the private transport company for allegedly plying buses on routes granted to war widows, handicapped persons and others.
Manjit Singh Malla, senior vice-president, SAD(A) youth wing, Harpal Singh Kussah, district president, SAD (A), along with nearly 20 party workers were rounded up from near Singhawala village on the Kotkapura road when they were heading to stop a bus of the company.
H.S. Sandhu, SDM, sent Mann in 14-day judicial remand. Later, he was taken to Faridkot prison. He was arrested at about 1.30 pm along with his party workers.
Ram Singh, general secretary and chief spokesperson of the party, alleged that his party president was neither taken to court nor allowed to present a lawyer. He alleged that Mann was not provided medical aid and due respect commensurate to his political and education standards. He claimed that his party president was treated shabbily. He observed that this was in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution which ensures utilisation of advocate to present the case.
He said their request for befitting treatment from a senior official of the district administration elicited a cold response and he asked them to contact a tehsildar. He said the tehsildar asked them to approach him tomorrow and nothing could be done today. According to him, Badal, with a view to avoiding ramifications of Mann’s participation in the party’s scheduled January 13 Maghi festival at Muktsar, which is the home district of Badal, wanted to keep him in jail for the next two weeks.
Ram Singh claimed that about 500 activists of his party were rounded up from Muktsar, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Bathinda, Mansa, Barnala besides Moga and added that nearly 200 of them were rounded up yesterday.
He informed that although buses of Orbit transport company were commuting across the state, its majority of buses plied in the aforementioned districts of Malwa.
He blamed Badal for ‘abusing’ his power by pressing at least two police Gypsies as escort each bus of the company. Describing the protest by his party as successful, he informed that in those districts where its buses do not usually run, they handed over memorandums to the deputy commissioners.
Referring to the Congress, he added that it was surprising that the main opposition party was silent on the breach of privileges of persons from marginal sections. According to him, persons not in a position to invest to hire buses to utilise granted transport routes decided to sell them off to Orbit.
Naveen Garewal adds from Chandigarh: Speaking to The Tribune from Faridkot, Mann said that he had been picked up from Kotkapura by the police and denied the opportunity to furnish bail bonds.
“The SDM had instructions to book us and throw us in jail. In the process, my constitutional rights have been violated. I have been denied access to a lawyer and the magistrate falsely wrote that I had no bail to furnish.
Mann said that in utter violation of the law of the land, he was not produced in any court and was taken directly to Faridkot jail.
Meanwhile, in Chandigarh legal adviser of the SAD (A) Ranjan Lakhanpal has condemned the arrest of Mann. He said that as required under law, the Kotkapura police did not inform Mann’s family or any other person about his arrest. He said the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had been apprised about the “illegal arrest of Mann”.
17 SAD (A) men held in Cheema Mandi, 19 in Sangrur
Sangrur, January 7
The SHO of Sunam Sadar police station said all 17 activists of the SAD (A) had been arrested. He added that they also tore the uniform of head constable Manjit Singh and obstructed the policemen in performing their duties. The Sunam DSP said the arrested persons would be produced in the Sunam court tomorrow.
The Sangrur police arrested 19 leaders and workers of the SAD (A) from the main gate of the bus stand here. They gathered there under the leadership of party’s general secretary Jeet Singh Alloarkh to gherao the Orbit buses.
The Bhawanigarh police also arrested three SAD (A) leaders, including a working committee member of the party Gurdeep Singh Phaguwala, from the Bhawanigarh bus stand when they gathered there to gherao the buses.
All 19 leaders and workers arrested from Sangrur and the three leaders of the party arrested from Bhawanigarh were today produced before local SDM Amandeep Bansal, who ordered their release.
NRIs’ proposals solid, claims CM
Chandigarh, January 7
NRI teachers, including Mohini Basra from Canada and her sister Kulwant Padda from the US, offered to stay back in India to train school teachers, especially in teaching English. They also suggested student exchange programmes between Punjab and the US and Canada.
''It is important to imbibe Punjabi culture, rich traditions and heritage among the younger generation settled abroad,'' observed Mohini during her meeting with the Chief Minister.
At the meeting Balbir Singh Multani from Germany offered to set up a media institute in Mohali to run crash courses in journalism and mass communication. He also evinced keen interest to set up a state-of-the-art hotel management institute.
Satinder Singh from Norway showed interest in setting up projects in the state to generate power from solar energy. He said he had offered to provide technical know-how in collaboration with Punjab Energy Development Agency. T.P. Singh from UK offered to set up a film and TV institute in the state. D.S. Khera from Canada submitted a proposal for setting up a vocational education centre at Alohran village in Nabha sub-division. He also offered to set up a driving school as Canada currently needs more than 5,000 drivers of heavy vehicles.
Ashwani Uppal from OMAXE group offered to set up thermal plants in the state, provided the government assured coal linkage and facilitate land acquisition.
Prominent NRIs who called on the Chief Minister during the sangat darshan included R.S.Dhandha (UK), Harinder Kaur (Vancouver), Sukwinder Singh (UK), Harinder Singh Ahluwalia (Canada), Nirbhai Singha and Sukhdev Singh Turna (USA), Bawa Singh Dhillon, (Hong Kong), Meena Sanghera (USA), Mohinder Singh, (Canada), Gurdev Singh Canada.
Update laws, rules, Dosanj to Badal
Chandigarh, January 7
He made this appeal when he and his wife Raminder Dosanjh called on Badal at his residence this morning.
He suggested traffic awareness should be introduced as a subject in school education.
Raminder, a teacher by profession, asked Badal to revamp the school curriculum to make it more result-oriented and need-based. She offered Badal a tie-up with the British Columbia's Ministry of Education in this regard.
Later, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Canadian Minister Harinder Singh Takhar also called on Badal and evinced keen interest in setting up manufacturing units in small industry sector in collaboration with the Canadian government.
Govt for more interaction with NRI media
Chandigarh, January 7 In an informal interaction with the mediapersons, Majithia asked them to write about the growth of the state. He asked principal secretary and director, public relations, to have regular interaction with mediapersons from other countries. Responding to the demands of the NRI media, he gave directions to issue identity cards to them so that they could move around freely in the state. It was also decided to issue advertisements focused on NRI population to overseas publications on regular basis.
Chandigarh, January 7
In an informal interaction with the mediapersons, Majithia asked them to write about the growth of the state. He asked principal secretary and director, public relations, to have regular interaction with mediapersons from other countries.
Responding to the demands of the NRI media, he gave directions to issue identity cards to them so that they could move around freely in the state.
It was also decided to issue advertisements focused on NRI population to overseas publications on regular basis.
PGI telemedicine project to be expanded
Chandigarh, January 7
A decision to link the hospitals with the PGI to provide 24-hour consultation via telemedicine has been agreed in principle by the authorities concerned to provide better medicare to patients, Prof J. S. Bajaj, professor emeritus and chairman of the academic council of the NAMS, said here today.
“In fact, buoyed by the success of the linkage of government hospitals in Shimla, Rohtak and Haldwani through the NAMS tele-education project, we have reached a stage when we can connect all public sectors hospitals in the region with the aim of working for a northern grid of tele-education by the end 11th Plan by 2012,” he said.
This was being done to disseminate the advances in the sciences to medical colleges and hospitals so that people benefit from the cutting-edge technologies of science, the professor said.
Besides, various symposia were being conducted through tele-education by the NAMS to frame uniform guidelines for the treatment of various diseases for the country.
On a question regarding large number of death due to cancer in the Malwa belt, Prof Bajaj, who is also the vice-chairman of the Punjab State Planning Board, informed that a high-level committee had been formed to probe the matter thoroughly. A blueprint for the upgradation of the government diagnostic laboratories was being prepared, he said adding that mapping of water quality was high on the agenda of the government.
8,000 Ranjit Sagar Dam staff’s salary to be cut
Chandigarh, January 7
Also pension of large number of such employees, who had retired from the service of the project, will be re-fixed. In all there will be about 13,000 employees, including retirees, whose emoluments will be re-fixed.
“ We have decided to move the case to Finance Department for approval. Later the issue would be put before the Cabinet for approval’’, said a senior officer of the Irrigation Department. He said the salary of these employees was fixed wrongly and the government had decided to re-fix the salary as per civil service rules (CSR).
Sources in the Irrigation Department said because of the higher fixation of salary of these employees, the government had to pay about Rs 12 crore per annum at present additional amount as salary at the dam project. The government had calculated about Rs 85 crore had been given more in form of salary to these employees in a few years.
As these employees have been posted at a project, they were given incentive in various forms, including increments. And by including incentive money, their salary continued to be raised year after year. However, the state government says incentive is given as reward and salary could not be fixed by including it.
Government authorities said in 1996 their salary should have been fixed as per the CS rules applicable to all government employees. But salary was fixed, authorities said, by including the increments etc which they were given as incentive. As most of the employees have been getting salary above the norms fixed by the government, they have been urging the authorities concerned to protect their salary. But the government has turned down their plea because the AG, Punjab wanted salary to be be slashed and re-fixed following the CSR.
The project was conceived in 70s. Work on it started in a big way in 80s. It was completed a few years ago. Most of the staff employed at the project have no work to do. Some of the staff are posted for the maintenance of the project, it is learnt.
Fans vent anger against umpires
Amritsar, January 7
Demanding that the umpires be penalised for their wrong decisions, the protesters took out a rally from Hall Gate to Ram Bagh, raising slogans against the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Pappu Mahajan, a BJP councillor, who spearheaded the agitation, said both Bucknor and Mark Benson had lowered the prestige of the game. He said the three-Test ban on Harbhajan Singh was like adding insult to injury. “The Australian team is surely playing mind games with India. To distract attention from the issue of poor umpiring, they have raised the issue of racial remarks. The BCCI should have taken a tougher stand, just like the Pakistanis did some time back,” he said.
Raj Khurana, a BSc student of Guru Nanak Dev University, said the judgment on Harbhajan’s conduct was passed on the basis of testimonies by two Australian players.
‘Lack of coordination between civil, police admn’
Amritsar, January 7 Stating this to the media here yesterday, Jaswant Sarpal, president, National Revolutionary Party for Democracy and Justice, said the deputy commissioner had marked to the Police Department for providing security to him under the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said the official concerned in order to delay his case had referred it to the SHO of another police station under whose jurisdiction his case did not come. He said the high court had given the orders in 2001, but still the official failed to provide any security to him.
Amritsar, January 7
Stating this to the media here yesterday, Jaswant Sarpal, president, National Revolutionary Party for Democracy and Justice, said the deputy commissioner had marked to the Police Department for providing security to him under the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
He said the official concerned in order to delay his case had referred it to the SHO of another police station under whose jurisdiction his case did not come. He said the high court had given the orders in 2001, but still the official failed to provide any security to him.
NGO set up to help families of gallant cops
Amritsar, January 7 S.S. Bhullar, former IGP, said today there were 218 awardees in the state, of which 78 were gazetted officers. Bhullar said the association would try to locate the families of about 40 per cent families of the awardees who have not received the facilities and financial help provided by the state government. He said some of these families were illiterate and did not know how to get help from the government. With Sumedh Singh Saini, director-eneral vigilance as its president, the other office-bearers besides Bhullar are Kullar Singh, Surjit Singh, both IPS retired officers, H.S. Mann, PPS, and 15 executive members.
Amritsar, January 7
S.S. Bhullar, former IGP, said today there were 218 awardees in the state, of which 78 were gazetted officers.
Bhullar said the association would try to locate the families of about 40 per cent families of the awardees who have not received the facilities and financial help provided by the state government. He said some of these families were illiterate and did not know how to get help from the government.
With Sumedh Singh Saini, director-eneral vigilance as its president, the other office-bearers besides Bhullar are Kullar Singh, Surjit Singh, both IPS retired officers, H.S. Mann, PPS, and 15 executive members.
Class VIII exams from March 1
Mohali, January 7 Chairman of the board Dalbir Singh Dhillon said the examination would start from March 1 in government, aided and affiliated schools. The schedule for theory papers are as follows: March 1 - English; March 3 - social study; March 4 - elective subjects; March 5 - health and physical education; March 7 - science; March 10 - mathematics; March - first language Punjabi/Hindi/Urdu; March 13 - second language Punjabi/Hindi/Urdu.
Mohali, January 7
Chairman of the board Dalbir Singh Dhillon said the examination would start from March 1 in government, aided and affiliated schools.
The schedule for theory papers are as follows: March 1 - English; March 3 - social study; March 4 - elective subjects; March 5 - health and physical education; March 7 - science; March 10 - mathematics; March - first language Punjabi/Hindi/Urdu; March 13 - second language Punjabi/Hindi/Urdu.
Ludhiana City Centre Scam
Chandigarh, January 7
The Vigilance Bureau filed the petition following the submission of challan.
Pronouncing the directions, Justice Mahesh Grover of the high court also directed that the petitioners would not be arrested for a week, in case the trial court did not agree with their contentions, for enabling them to avail legal remedies.
The judge also directed the trial court to dispose of the petition within three days of its presentation keeping in view the apex court orders in the matter of the co-accused. The Vigilance Bureau was also asked to hand over the copy of the challan to the petitioners as directed by the court when the petition initially came up for hearing during the vacations on January 4.
The case was initially listed before Justice Surya Kant, but was referred to other Bench by the judge in view of the changed roaster.
As the mater came up for hearing before Justice Grover in the afternoon, counsel for the petitioners expressed apprehension that the two would be arrested in case, the trial court did not grant them relief. This, counsel added, would nullify the effect of the high court orders pronounced on October 1 last year.
Referring to the order, counsel asserted that the petitioners were on a better footing than their co-accused. Even the court had in the orders noted that their role in the matter was negligible or miniscule.
After hearing the arguments at length, Justice Grover observed that an order protecting the petitioners was ordered to inure till the filing of the challan for enabling the petitioners to move the trial court for regular bail.
The high court last year had allowed the pre-arrest bail applications filed by the two petitioners, along with another accused associated with Today Homes and Infrastructure Private Limited, while turning down the bail plea of the organisation’s director G. K. Gambhir in the same case.
Controller’s transfer orders quashed
Chandigarh, January 7
Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, observed that the state had not given details of administrative reasons behind the issuance of the transfer orders in their reply filed in the matter.
Seeking the quashing of the orders dated November 13 last year, Premy had earlier stated that the same were wrong and illegal.
Premy had contended that he was to retire upon attaining the age of superannuation on January 31. His counsel had added that the transfer order was in violation of the guidelines issued by the state government on April 13 last year.
He had further added that otherwise also the orders transferring him just two months before his retirement were harsh.
Influential persons may be behind principal’s murder
Jalandhar, January 7
SSP Arpit Shukla who revisited the college for investigation, confirmed this but refused to divulge details saying it might hamper investigation.
The police had got call details of the principal and her cook Kishore Mandal’s mobile phones and was trying to analyse call details, police sources said.
To a query, Shukla said the murders were likely to be committed by some contract killers based outside Punjab but at least one of the murdererss was very well known to the principal as no one was allowed to enter her house `Veer Astha Bhawan’ on the right side of the entrance to the college. No entry of the suspected killers was made in the register at the reception, the SSP said, adding the principal might have directed the security guard at the gate to let the visitors come.
Meanwhile four police teams led by SP S.K. Kalia, SP P.S. Parmar, DSP Mukhwinder Singh and DSP Raghubir Singh have been formed to solve mystery of foure murders.
Meanwhile contrary to the claims of district police, Dr Bawa’s niece Priyanka and her husband Sudhir Sachdeva told The Tribune while gold jewellery worn by the KMV principal was in tact but the same in the almirah was found missing. Staying alone for the past few years, divorcee Dr Bawa had adopted Priyanka as daughter.
Meanwhile to a question, the SSP said the principal was a respectable lady and he did not want to comment irresponsibly about the unconfirmed information received from different quarters.
Chandigarh, January 7
Chandigarh, January 7
Mysterious Death of Lehragaga Man
Sangrur, January 7
Sunil was reportedly picked up by the Tohana police (Haryana) on January 6 from Lehragaga and dropped at his house at about 8 pm the same day. However, at 11 pm the family found him dead.
Talking to The Tribune on phone, Walia said he had started the inquest proceedings to find out the causes of death and the persons responsible for the same.
He further said he today got another post mortem on the body done at the Sangrur civil hospital, which was videographed.
He said the allegations of the relatives of Sunil against the Tohana police would also be probed during the inquiry.
Earlier in the day, the relatives of the deceased and residents of Lehragaga blocked road and rail traffic by staging a dharna at a level crossing on the Jakhal-Ludhiana rail track at Lehragaga for about three hours.
They also took out a march through the town and staged a dharna in front of the office of the Lehragaga SDM.
Canadian MP’s purse stolen, 2 held
Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 7
Organisers and officials at the function organised at Pohir village to felicitate Ruby Dhalla, MP for Brampton Springdale in Canada’s parliament, were shocked when the two, later identified as Bindia (5) and Sachin (9), dodged them after snatching the handbag containing visa documents and valuables belonging to the NRIs.
The Dehlon police, who had been deployed at the venue, tried to chase the two but they dogged them also. However, Jasvir Singh Phalewal, a guest, succeeded in nabbing them from a deserted place on the Pohir-Ahmedgarh road about half an hour later.
A visibly upset Ruby preferred not to get a case registered. According to her, the bag belonged to her staff and almost all visa documents and valuables were kept in that. SHO Prem Singh said necessary action would be initiated against the suspects.