Patiala Central Jail yet to be alerted about possible terror attack

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Nov 07, 2014 23:45 IST

Despite fresh information from central intelligence agencies about Patiala Central Jail featuring on terrorists' radar, the union government has not alerted either the Punjab jail department or the central jail officials.

A senior central jail official expressed ignorance when asked about the jail being a possible target of terror attack.

Intelligence agencies had disclosed that militant organisations were planning to attack two places in the state - the Patiala Central Jail and the Border Security Force (BSF) regional headquarters at Jalandhar.

It was also suggested that German-based jihadi and Sikh separatist outfits have raised a militant group with help from Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The group is planning to strike at several places across the country, including the two locations in Punjab.

Among the central jail inmates is Balwant Singh Rajoana, death row convict in the murder of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh. He has been lodged in the Patiala jail for the past several years.

Director general (jails) RP Meena said, "We have not been alerted by any intelligence agency, and are yet to receive information about Patiala jail being a target. But, if we get information, adequate security will be ensured in the jail premises."

At present, the jail has 14 security watch towers to keep a tab on activities in and around the jail.
Staff crunch, overcrowding in jail

Overcrowding of inmates and inadequate security staff have been major problems in the Patiala Central Jail for many years now.

The premise, which has 15 barracks and 100 cells, houses 2,200 inmates as against its authorised capacity of 1,400. And the state government has provided only 158 staff for the already overcrowded facility. Due to the staff crunch, personnel are forced to be on duty for 12-16 hours a day.

Spread across 92 acre on the Patiala-Nabha Road, the jail was setup in 1902 when Patiala was a princely state. With the merger of Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), the jail came under the administrative control of the inspector general of prisons, Punjab, in 1956.

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