Former Akali minister Bibi Jagir Kaur continued to get the VIP treatment in jail here on Sunday. Rules were bent to allow influential people, including Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, mayor of Gravesham city in the UK, and former legislator Sarabjeet Singh Makkar, to meet the convicts in the Harpreet Kaur case.
The jail department, led by minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, took seconds to accept Jagir's application for transfer from the prison in Patiala to one in Kapurthala, from where her dera at Begowal is just 20 km.
Paramjit Singh Raipur, member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and another convict in the Harpreet case, was also lodged in the same jail. Raipur is paternal uncle of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi. The UK mayor is son of Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, woman sentenced to five years of imprisonment for her hand in the kidnapping of Jagir's daughter, Harpreet Kaur, and aborting her foetus by force.
Tanmanjeet, getting into a sports utility vehicle (SUV) on his way out of the jail, tried to hide his face from news television cameras. The jail rules bar meeting with inmates on Sundays, but rules were not enough to stop Akali jathedars and supports of Jagir Kaur, leader of Sant Baba Prem Singh Muralewale dera in Begowal. The security didn't resist their entry.
Even the timings for meeting inmates are fixed, but on Sunday, the influential visitors went in at will. The guards opened the main door without recording the vehicle number or visitor details even once.
Irked over the media reports of the hospitality overdrive, the jail department barred the media from the campus. Crews from the electronic and print media, however, recorded all the movement from outside. Sensing trouble again, the jail officials requested the newsmen to shut down their cameras.
Jail minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur feigned ignorance of any violation of the prison manual in Kapurthala, and said that he would look into the matter. On the permission to Akali workers and dera followers to meet Bibi Jagir Kaur on Saturday and Sunday, he said there was no restriction on meeting convicts. "Only due procedures should be followed."