M A I N   N E W S

Kapurthala effect: Govt mulls jail reforms
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Magisterial probe

n SDM Anupam Kaler to ascertain the chronology of events
n Pinpoint the role of the jail health authorities
n Determine if there was any jailbreak attempt
n Probe the death of inmate Makhan Singh on November 16
n Assess loss to property, identify prisoners behind rioting

Kapurthala, November 21
The Punjab Government is mulling large-scale reforms by involving prisoners in day-to-day chores in the wake of the violent clashes between the prisoners and the jail staff of the Kapurthala jail yesterday.

The government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. The probe will ascertain the chronology of events, pinpoint the role of the jail health authorities, determine if there was any jailbreak attempt, probe the death of inmate Makhan Singh on November 16, assess the loss to property and identify prisoners behind the rioting.

“The Chief Minister has sought a day-to-day report on the progress of the inquiry. A 15-bed de-addiction centre has already been set up in the jail complex. The immediate provocation seems to be failure of timely medical assistance to inmate Baldev Singh,” said Principal Secretary (Home) DS Bains after inspecting the jail alongwith DGP (Jails) Shashi Kant.

The probe is being conducted by SDM Anupam Kaler.

Asked as to why the Jail Superintendent had not been suspended, Bains replied: “ In this case, the jail staff does not seem to have caused the problem... I am not giving a clean chit to anyone. The probe will bring out the truth.”

The jail inmate killed in the police firing yesterday has been identified as Manpreet Singh of Mianwal village near Shahkot. Preliminary probe points to lapses on the part of the jail health authorities.

“The inmates say that they are not getting proper medical treatment in the jail. We are focusing on the issue,” said Bains.

He suspected that the inmates may have become restless after being shifted to the new jail premises where they did not have easy access to drugs. “The inmates, perhaps, could lay their hands on drugs more easily inside the old jail,” said Bains. Punjab DGP (Jails) Shashi Kant said there was an urgent need to introduce jail reforms.

“We are going to form committees, primarily comprising convicts and not the undertrials, to run the jail mess and to assist jail doctors in the treatement of fellow prisoners.

The committees would function on a rotational basis. “Basically, we are mulling a larger role for prisoners,” said DGP Shashi Kant, adding that yoga was also being introduced in the jails.

The jail wore a devastated look this morning with smoke billowing from certain areas. The jail hospital as well as the jail factory have been gutted. Barracks, the jail kitchen, power station and power supply systems have been damaged.





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