A video that went viral last week prepared by 13 inmates of high-security Bathinda jail and registration of an FIR once again brought into sharp focus the lax administration of prisons in Punjab.
The video vividly conveyed that drugs and mobile phones were readily made available to interested prisoners for a price – a result of connivance with certain officers of the jail administration. Jail Superintendent N.D. Negi, on deputation to the Punjab government from the BSF, got an FIR registered against all 13 prisoners. The FIR alleged that these prisoners were trying to blackmail officers and defame the administration in general. The prisoners had been demanding drugs and phones that the jail administration denied.
Though the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Jails, B. Chander Shekar transferred on Sunday and ADGP Arun Pal Singh took as the new Director General of prisons on Monday, the two controversial interviews of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi telecast on March 14 and March 18 by a national TV channel did not elicit any action continues to raise many eyebrows.
Bishnoi used mobile phones to give interviews exposing lax security arrangements in the jail. The recent video released by 13 inmates highlighted the same laxity. Interestingly the Bathinda jail administration did not get any FIR registered against Bishnoi though he committed the same offence violating the jail manual.
The Punjab government first ordered an inquiry, but before its completion, constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by ADGP Arun Pal to look into the functioning of the Bathinda jail administration. The suspected jail officials who facilitated gangster Bishnoi’s back-to-back interviews continue to be on active duties that could adversely affect the objectivity of SIT findings.
Yet another glaring example of laxity in the administration of jails in the state came from Goindwal Sahib’s high-security jail in which two prisoners were murdered following a fight between two groups of gangsters. At least seven officials were suspended and an inquiry was ordered. But no answers are available as to why a similar step was not taken in Bathinda jail laxity.
DGP, Jails, Arun Pal Singh when contacted said that he had just joined and would not like to comment. Attempts to get a reaction from the officiating Superintendent of Bathinda jail, Inderjit Singh Khalon also went futile.
Meanwhile, advocate R. S. Bajaj explained that there could not be separate yardsticks for the same crime. “If an FIR is registered against 13 prisoners for making a video viral, likewise Lawrence Bishnoi too was required to be booked under a separate FIR for violating provisions of the jail manual,” he added.
Bajaj further said that action under section 120-B of the IPC was essential against the officers of the jail for their possible connivance in facilitating the smuggling of contraband into the jail apart from departmental proceedings for dereliction in duty.
(This article has been published via a syndicated feed)