Ramoowalia’s 1st decision as UP min could release terror convict
Uttar Pradesh’s new minister for prisons Balwant Singh Ramoowalia on Thursday announced that the state government would consider releasing all prisoners above 70 years of age on humanitarian grounds. Incidentally, a Sikh prisoner, Waryam Singh, convicted of terrorist activities, is one such inmate, among 250-odd such people lodged across the state’s jails.india Updated: Nov 06, 2015 12:14 IST
Uttar Pradesh’s new minister for prisons Balwant Singh Ramoowalia on Thursday announced that the state government would consider releasing all prisoners above 70 years of age on humanitarian grounds. Incidentally, a Sikh prisoner, Waryam Singh, convicted of terrorist activities, is one such inmate, among 250-odd such people lodged across the state’s jails.
Ramoowalia is a former leader of the senior party of the alliance in Punjab government, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Only last week, in a dramatic gesture, he had jumped parties and loyalties to be sworn in as a UP minister.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has been pressing for Waryam’s release for long and in October, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had cleared the release of Waryam, following pressure from Badal. However, formal orders for the execution of the release are yet to reach the UP government.
Waryam, who has spent more than 25 years in prison, is currently in Bareilly jail. He was charged under Section 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 (TADA).
“Yes, I am considering the release of all prisoners who are 70 years of age and above. The number of such prisoners may be between 250 and 300. We will be doing so on humanitarian grounds,” said Ramoowalia, who made the announcement while presiding over a meeting with jail department officials.
On whether those to be released would include Waryam Singh, the minister said he was yet to see the file relating to the prisoner. “I will summon the file of the prisoner on Friday and will take an appropriate decision and will also verify if the union home minister has sent any letter on the release of the prisoner to the state government,” said Ramoowalia.
On whether there were any other 70-year-plus prisoners, convicted of indulding in terrorist activities, lodged in UP jails, Ramoowalia said “As of now I know only about one case (Waryam Singh) though I will find out more.”
Rules will be followed: UP officials
A senior jail department officer told HT that Thursday’s meeting was only an introductory one.
“We did not discuss any issue concerning Waryam Singh. The release of prisoners who are 70 and above, who fulfill the criteria, will be considered as per rules,” said the officer, while feigning ignorance about the union home ministry’s clearance to the release of Waryam Singh.
“We are yet to get any order on the release of prisoners above 70,” said another officer. “This exercise of considering release of prisoners wha are 70-year-old and above has been initiated only after recent orders of the Supreme Court. Previously, the SC had banned premature release of any prisoner. Only now, state governments have been allowed to consider release of prisoners as per rules barring those who have been convicted in crime against women, rape cases and the cases that have been investigated by the CB or the NIA,” said the officer.
Ramoowalia added, “We will introduce a system of online appointment for families meeting inmates. Arrangements will also be made to install landline phones in jails. Arrangements to allow appearance of inmates through video conferencing will also be done, Jails will get drinking water purification machines.”