Punjab jails minister with the first copy of a magazine that inmates at the Patiala Central Jail have produced. (HT Photo)
Punjab jails minister with the first copy of a magazine that inmates at the Patiala Central Jail have produced. (HT Photo)

Nabha jail to be rebuilt by 2023 to mark centenary of Nehru’s stay

The jail has 40 cells and barracks and can accommodate 450 inmates. The new plan, however, proposes to construct 60 new cells in place of the old barracks, meant to house at least 250 dreaded prisoners
PUBLISHED ON JUL 09, 2021 08:57 PM IST

Patiala/Nabha The Punjab jails department has decided to renovate the Nabha high-security jail where freedom fighters, including the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were locked up in 1923, at a cost of 25 crore.

Punjab minister for cooperation and jails, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who visited the Patiala Central Jail, said, “Pandjit Nehru was locked up at the jail, standing for 98 years, in 1923. Before the centenary of the occasion, we will upgrade the facility, while preserving the old structure.” In 2016, the jail grabbed headlines after a gangster, and several others, were freed from its premises.

The jail has 40 cells and barracks and can accommodate 450 inmates. The new plan, however, proposes to construct 60 new cells in place of the old barracks, meant to house at least 250 dreaded prisoners; this maximum-security jail was meant to house only such criminals, but over time the concept has been diluted.

Randhawa, accompanied by additional director general of police (ADGP) jails Praveen Kumar Sinha; principal secretary, jails, DK Tewari; IG Roop Kumar and senior architect Asha Mahajan, visited the Patiala Central Jail as well, to review its security. He also checked the quality of food prepared for the inmates and reviewed some of the products they make as part of reforms.

“The Punjab government, under chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has brought revolutionary jail reforms and also checked hooliganism inside jails,” he claimed, adding that previously, the government planned to relocate this jail at a cost of 110 crore.

On a query on smuggling of mobiles to inmates, Randhawa added jammers were ineffective as technology changed rapidly from 3G, 4G to 5G. “We are working to adopt other technologies currently in use at Delhi’s Mandoli Jail, and Punjab’s Kapurthala, Bathinda and Patiala jails as a pilot project,” he said, adding, “Body X-ray machines costing 2 crore each would be installed in jails to curb entry of illegal items.”

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BOX

Reforms: Randhawa unveils

magazine inmates produced

Patiala Prisons do not necessarily have to be dark, lonely places. For inmates genuinely wanting to transform their lives, the Punjab jails department has launched a reform initiative ‘Punjab Ujala’ (Punjab’s light).

Under this umbrella of activities, jails minister, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa unveiled the first copy of a three-monthly magazine ‘Sochan Di Udaan’ (Flight of Thoughts). “Criminal thoughts should have no place in society. Under the Ujala initiative, we will also develop vocational skills of inmates,” Randhawa added, also appreciating the work that Rural Self Employment Training Institute (RSETI) has done in the Patiala jail.

Principal secretary, Punjab jails, DK Tewari and ADGP jails, Parveen Kumar Sinha said, “Activities like bringing out such magazines will change minds and end crime.”

Jail superintendent Shivraj Singh Nandgarh said, “The magazine has 11 sketches, eight poems and three write-ups. No one can say these have been penned by people jailed for crimes,” he added. Deputy jail superintendent Inderjit Singh Kahlon said the cover-page of the magazine, a Bhangra team photo, has only inmates in it.

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