Punjab govt to HC: Hub of gangsters, Bathinda jail in consideration for no communication zone
The Punjab government, has told the high court that Bathinda jail, where most of the gangsters and hardcore prisoners are housed, is being considered for ‘no communication zone’
Punjab government has told high court that Bathinda jail, where most gangsters and hardcore prisoners are housed, is being considered for ‘no communication zone’.
In an affidavit submitted by the Roop Kumar Arora, Inspector General of Prisons, Punjab, the government has told court that this concept entails a variety of features with the aim to block illegal communication signals inside the jail and in the vicinity. No telecom operator would be allowed to send mobile signals in the area—roughly two kilometres periphery of the jail. The proposal would soon be sent for administrative approvals, the government has told the court adding that some measures have already been taken to implement it so that day to day functioning is not hampered.
The affidavit came after a rap from the high court for dilly-dallying on steps to improve security measures at jails, including installation of jammers. “Apparently, it seems that no steps are likely to be taken by the state in the future as well,” the court had observed while seeking a timeline from the state in September in a matter pending since 2011 on jail facilities. The court’s observation came after lawyers pointing to the rampant use of phones inside jails, while also referring to how the murder of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala had revealed that gangsters lodged in jails were using social media. The lawyers had also referred to other such cases reported in recent past.
The government has further told court that a committee, ‘technical evaluation committee’ (TEC) under the chairmanship of Deputy Inspector General, Prison (headquarters) has been constituted with 10 other members to look into various aspects of the issue. The timeline given suggests that state agencies would take atleast one year to complete installation of jammers. As per the state jammers are to be installed in 13 prisons.
The state has told court that TEC, which met on October 6, has decided to procure jammers only from the source, which is approved by the Cabinet secretariat of the Central government.
The committee has also suggested that jammers should have upgradable features for blocking advance future signals such as 5-G and beyond in future. Prisons department should conduct a pilot project of the ‘Tower Harmonious call blocking system’ regarding which a SOP was shared by ministry of home affairs. The prisons department has coordinated for pilot project of the same at 13 jails and pilot project would start soon. The 4-G jammers have been installed as pilot project at central jail Bathinda by a Delhi based firm and detailed efficacy report is awaited, the court was further told.