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Drugs, poor healthcare blamed for inmate deaths in Faridkot jail
Balwant Garg
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 14
A judicial inquiry into the death of a Faridkot Central Jail inmate has revealed that the jail is “ill-equipped” for treating those addicted to drugs, especially when they experience acute withdrawal symptoms.

In a report (a copy is with The Tribune) submitted to the District and Sessions Judge on May 21, Faridkot Chief Judicial Magistrate Dr Rajneesh said lack of security, farsightedness of jail officials, deficient liaisons between jail officials and medical staff in the jail and, to some extent, insensitivity of the medical staff led to the death of prisoner Harsha Singh.

The CJM said Harsha’s histopathological report attributed his death to “alprazolam poisoning”. Alprazolam is a commonly used compressed tablet to treat panic and anxiety disorders. However, if overdosed or combined with other substances, it can lead to coma or death. The CJM said the jail lacked specialised medical services to treat drug addicts.

The jail has recently become infamous for increasing drug-suspected deaths. Besides four suicides and several suicide attempts reported in a year, nearly 14 inmates have died in the jail and it is believed that most of these deaths were related to drugs.

In his inquiry report submitted to the Punjab Chief Minister earlier this year, the Kotkapura SDM had said more than 80% of the Faridkot jail inmates were hooked on drugs.

He said the jail lacked adequate health facilities and infrastructure to take care of the ailing prisoners experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms.

Though the jail houses a de-addiction centre, it lacks adequate medical staff to run it. When addicts cringe, the medical staff, in the absence of necessary drugs, administers tranquilisers, thus further aggravating the situation, the report revealed.

The SDM concluded that a mix of inmate ingenuity, complicit visitors and some corrupt jail staff has kept the level of inmate drug abuse constant in the jail. He said without the complicity of the staff, drugs could not be smuggled into the jail. So, a probe into the involvement of the jail staff in the supply of drugs in the jail was necessary to get to the root of the problem, the report said.

‘Insensitive’ staff

  • Judicial inquiry into ‘drug-suspected’ deaths in jail decry lack of medical facilities, insensitivity of doctors, jail staff
  • Nearly 14 inmates have died in the jail and it is believed that most of these deaths were related to drugs





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