Patiala central jail, which is one of the best jails in Punjab when it comes to reformatory measures, had a tough time last week following a murderous attack by inmates in which around nine jail personnel, including assistant superintendent of jail, were injured on January 6.
The assault by inmates has exposed serious loopholes in the security of jail staff deployed round the clock for keeping a vigil on the activities of dreaded criminals and gangsters.
Life threatening calls and messages have also become a cause of worry for the jail staff, including senior officials, as they often complain about receiving threats from hardcore and dreaded criminals lodged in the jail.
Even additional superintendent of Jail Rajan Kapur received a life threat through a text message on his mobile number a few days ago allegedly from prisoners lodged in Faridkot jail.
Against the designated capacity of 1200 inmates, around 2250 inmates, including convicts and undertrial, have been presently adjusted in 15 barracks and 100 cells in the jail premises.
with Hindustan times, Additional Superintendent of Patiala jail Rajan Kapur talks about the incident
Q: What went wrong on the morning of January 6?
Ans: It all happened after the jail staff found a mobile charger and a battery from one of the inmates during routine inspection. Fearing any further recovery, accused Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi, along with other fellow inmates, overpowered welfare officer and assistant superintendent of jail Inderjit Singh Kahlon when the latter asked them to come out of their cell. As usual, Kahlon had gone for checking of barracks and cells without having adequate supporting staff.
Q: Was the physical attack on the jail staff pre-planned?
Ans: Yes, it was. In fact, they had planned to attack me and Jail Superintendent Bhupinder Singh Virk during celebrations of Gurpurab on January 7 in the jail premises. We have also mentioned the same in our report sent to senior officers. However, the recovery of the mobile charger and the battery from the accused on January 6 foiled their plans and they attacked Kahlon.
Q: Was there any instigation from within jail premises?
Ans: We are not facing any problem from the first timer criminals. But hardcore and dreaded criminals lodged in the jail for a year or so instigate them to create disturbances in the reform process just to show their supremacy over other criminals. Such things happen when jail authorities adopt stricter attitude in implementing the norms. For the past four months, we have kept a check on drug smuggling and use of mobile phones in the jail and this irked hardcore criminals.
Q: Security of jail staff always remains at stake. Have Patiala jail officers informed higher authorities about life threatening calls by the inmates to the staff ?
Ans: We have already written to senior officials to provide adequate security in the wake of the attack on jail staff and threats to the lives of jail officials and staff security. The officials have assured us that they will do the needful at the earliest. Following recent threat calls, jail staff has been provided with official weapons which they are supposed to carry whenever they travel from jail to their homes and vice-versa.
Q: What preventive measures have been adopted by jail officials following the incident?
Ans: We have segregated all the accused in the assault case in different barracks. The gymnasium section has been shut down completely and gym material has been shifted to training school. Also, plans to celebrate Lohri in the jail premises have also been cancelled after the incident.
Q: There are problems of overcrowding and shortage of staff ail Patiala central jail. How are you dealing with these?
Ans: The senior authorities have been apprised of the above problems.
Q: Despite checks on drug smuggling and use of mobile phones, why drugs and mobiles are often found in the jail premises?
Ans: We have adopted a stricter attitude towards smuggling of phones and drugs but we can overcome this problem only after joint and dedicated efforts of jail staff and local police.