Balbir Singh, 52, who was sentenced to death six months before 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon and behind bars in West Bengal, had a last wish: to return to his home state of Haryana to spend the rest of his time before being hanged. Despite the West Bengal jail authorities’ efforts, he is yet to find a place in the jails of Haryana, Punjab or Delhi.
The reasons range from lack of infrastructure to carry out the death penalty to overcrowded prisons.
Balbir Singh, a head constable with the Border Security Force (BSF), was found guilty of murdering two of his seniors during his posting in Tripura and was sentenced to death on March 2, 2007, by a BSF court.
At present, the case is being heard in the Supreme Court.
“He (Balbir) wanted to be shifted to a jail in Haryana, which is his native state, or near it so that he could be close to his family. Our department tried its best communicating with the jail authorities in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi but there was no positive response. Some said they had no infrastructure to execute the death penalty, others cited overcrowded jails,” said Adhir Sharma, additional director general state prisons, who intervened on Balbir Singh’s request.
“There should be a protocol for prisoner transfer throughout the country,” Sharma said.
HARYANA SAYS NO FACILITY FOR DEATH PENALTY
Balbir Singh, who is lodged at Dum Dum central jail, has spent the longest time behind bars as compared to the other death row inmates in West Bengal’s jails. It has been eight years since his death sentence was announced. He has been confined to a high-security cell.
For the past three years, Balbir Singh and his family have been appealing to the jail authorities in West Bengal besides constitutional heads such as the prime minister for his transfer to a prison near Haryana.
The West Bengal jail authorities took up his plea recently.
First, they approached the Haryana director general of prisons’ office, which turned down the request, saying there was no infrastructure for carrying out the death penalty and, therefore, they would not be able to keep Balbir Singh.
TIHAR TOO CROWDED, SAYS DELHI
Thereafter, the West Bengal jail authorities wrote to Tihar authorities in Delhi, who turned down the request saying that the jail was overcrowded. Later, they asked the West Bengal authorities to pursue the request with the Delhi government.
AGAINST POLICY, CLAIMS PUNJAB
The jail authorities in West Bengal approached their counterparts in Punjab, who also turned down the request. They said that it was against their official policy to keep prisoners from other states, more so if the prisoner was on the death row.
At present, there are eight prisoners on the death row in West Bengal. Half of them have been awarded the sentence this year.
NO TAKERS FOR HIM
*Balbir Singh, a head constable with BSF, found guilty of murdering two of his seniors in Tripura, sentenced to death on March 2, 2007, by BSF court. At present, case being heard in Supreme Court.
*Last wish to return to home state of Haryana or nearby Delhi or Punjab to spend rest of his time before being hanged.
*Despite West Bengal jail authorities’ efforts, he is yet to find a place in jails of Haryana, Punjab or Delhi. The reasons range from lack of infrastructure to carry out the death penalty to overcrowded prisons