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Punjab jails minister Randhawa plans to cash in on ‘astro advice’ for jail food!

Unlike Tihar jail’s restaurant where inmates trained in hospitality cook and serve specialty dishes, Punjab would be the first to dish out meals cooked inside jails.

punjab Updated: May 29, 2018 09:39 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab jails minister,Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa,astro advice
Punjab minister for jails Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa plans canteens outside jails as partaking of what inmates eat, according to astrologers, is a remedy to ward off a jail term.(HT File )

Punjab minister for jails Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa is not only trying to put brakes on what’s being smuggled illegally inside state prisons, he also wants to stop what’s being sneaked out.

Unlike Tihar jail’s restaurant where inmates trained in hospitality cook and serve specialty dishes, Punjab would be the first to dish out meals cooked inside jails. Thanks to astrologers, many people approach state’s prison authorities every day with a rather unusual favour — for jail food. Partaking of what inmates eat, according to astrologers and “pundits”, is a remedy to ward off a jail sentence. The advice is for those with a “jail yog” in their horoscope owing to unfavourable planetary combinations or ones facing criminal cases.

Randhawa says people line up outside jails with requests and the authorities oblige them on “compassionate” grounds. So, he plans to legalise the practice and make some clean profit too. The minister proposes to start canteens outside prisons to sell jail food. “We can sell Rs 100 thali (meal) for Rs 200 at these canteens. The funds can be used for the welfare of inmates and for improving the condition of jails,” he says.

However, it must here be mentioned that “to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform” is a fundamental duty of the people of India, according to the Constitution.

Since the state’s bigger jails in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar see such requests every day, the canteens will first be started in these cities, outside the jail premises. The idea would later be replicated in other jails. There are 27 jails in Punjab, including central, district and sub-jails.

Randhawa foresees big business in jail food for state’s cooperatives too. Also, Punjab’s cooperation minister, Randhawa plans to provide inmates with better quality and more nourishing food by roping in Markfed, Milkfed and other federations to supply flour, rice, ghee, milk and other products.

“While the inmates will get good food, it will also boost sales of these cooperatives. Jails in Punjab need reforms and it has to start by improving the living conditions there,” he says.

But for gangsters and hardcore criminals, he has a different recipe. As state jails are notorious for the use of mobile phones, drugs and daring jail breaks, he has warned authorities that recovery of any mobile phone or drugs inside the prison will invite immediate suspension of the official on duty as well as action against the jail superintendent. He has also mooted a proposal to conduct trials of gangsters on the jail premises by setting up special courts and barred all except the jail superintendent from carrying mobile phones inside. His department has also requested the Union home ministry for installing 4G jammers in jails to curb use of mobile phones.

First Published: May 29, 2018 09:38 IST