M A I N   N E W S

Prisoners run riot in Jalandhar jail
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 30
Agitated over the death of an undertrial, prisoners today took control of the Central Jail located near Basti Adda Chowk here. They did not let anyone come close to them for about two hours in the morning. This is a second incident of violence in the jail since January.

Some of the prisoners tried to flee by scaling boundary walls of the jail built in the 19th century. Guards fired at least five rounds in the air to foil their attempt.

The situation took an ugly turn at around 7.15 am during “bandhi khol” (lock out) when the prisoners started pelting jail staff with stones on knowing that undertrial Jaspal Singh had died in the jail hospital at around 6.30 am, said jail superintendent Gursharan Singh Sidhu.

The jail staff ran for shelter near the watchtowers. Jail sources said since the inmates outnumbered the jail staff, they did not have any option but to run for life.

Meanwhile, the jail authorities called in off-duty staff.

Raising slogans against the jail authorities, several prisoners, armed with iron rods and sticks, set a store on fire.

Considering that the situation was going out of control, the jail authorities asked the district police for help.

Talking to The Tribune, SSP Arpit Shukla said though the district police reached the jail within 10 minutes after being informed, the jail authorities failed to inform them in time. Deputy commissioner Ajit Singh Pannu, SSP Arpit Shukla, along with a large posse of police, reached the jail and brought the situation under control.

“We gave stern warning to the agitated prisoners about strict action against them, if they did not return to their barracks and surrender their lathis and iron rods,” the SSP said. “The situation was brought under control within an hour the district police reached there,” he claimed.

After regaining control of the jail, the DC and the SSP held meetings with five representatives of the jail inmates and the presidents of the gurdwara and temple on the jail premises and heard their grievances. The SSP said they complained about the scarcity of potable water in the jail. However, the jail superintendent said over 80 litres of water was provided to every inmate despite the jail tubewell having gone out of order. It’s motor developed a problem three days ago and it was repaired at 5.30 am. For the past three days, 96,000 litres of water was supplied to the inmates through eight fire tenders daily.

Sidhu said undertrial Jaspal, hailing from a village near Aadampur in Jalandhar, was lodged in the jail on February 18 this year. Prima facie, he died due to a heart attack he suffered as he got up for taking water early in the morning, he added.

When the jail authorities tried to wake him up at around 6.45 am for routine counting and lockout, he was found unconscious. As the jail doctor was called for taking him to the civil hospital, inmates of his hospital barracks started raising slogans.

Meanwhile, DC Ajit Singh Pannu told The Tribune that the exact cause of the undertrial’s death would be known after the submission of a post-mortem report of the body. He has asked SDM (I) Bhupinder Singh to look into the cause of the undertrial’s death. He said ADC (general) S.S. Marar would probe the causes of violence in the jail.

Meanwhile, the SSP said a case would be registered against those prisoners who initiated violence in the jail.



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