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Shortage of staff, obsolete equipment ail Punjab prisons

Manpower crunch at the cutting-edge level and low morale of the jail staff that lacks modern communication gadgets are among the host of the key weak spots hampering the functioning of Punjab prisons.

punjab Updated: Feb 22, 2017 12:10 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab prisons,Nabha jailbreak
Six inmates, including gangsters and militants, had escaped from the Nabha High Security Jail in November last year.(HT File Photo)

Manpower crunch at the cutting-edge level and low morale of the jail staff that lacks modern communication gadgets are among the host of the key weak spots hampering the functioning of Punjab prisons.

In a nine-point security plan sent to the state government, the Punjab prisons department has pinpointed the urgency to revamp the jail security so that incidents such as the Nabha jailbreak and the subsequent “poor response” do not recur.

Absence of standard operating procedures (SOPs) was another key reason behind poor response of the staff during the the Nabha jailbreak incident. Also, the department has sought approval to set up a jail internal monitoring and analysis wing. This wing will generate prior intelligence on conspiracies being hatched inside the jails.

  • Jails should have internal intelligence units
  • Effects should be made for manpower and morale augmentation
  • There should be standard operating procedures
  • Control rooms in jails and headquarters
  • High-security zones for gangsters
  • Latest communication equipment
  • Security battalions for jails
  • Improving training and morale of staff
  • Constructions and repairs

The proposal, which additional director general of police (ADGP jails) Rohit Choudhary has mooted, states that at least 1,042 posts of warders and 20 of assistant superintendent jails are vacant and there is a need to create 377 posts for the four newly constructed jails.

“This is a long-term plan. Implementation of the proposal has already begun with government placing orders to buy 35 sniffer dogs, 500 walkie-talkie sets etc,” the ADGP told Hindustan Times.

The jails lack well-equipped control rooms to act as monitoring centres for activities in the prisons and responders in the event of any contingency.

During the Nabha jailbreak, there was no communication between the men performing duties at different gates. Now, steps are afoot to provide walkie-talkie sets at watch towers, sentry posts and to warders on barrack duties.

Pitching for the revival of the posts of sub-assistant superintendents of jails, who will be given the task of barracks supervision, the proposal quoting Punjab Prison Rules states that the post of senior assistant superintendents of jails also needs to be revived. “This will strengthen and give depth to prison management and supervision,” Choudhary said, who has also recommended raising two separate battalions of the armed police for prison security.

  • Centralised control room at Chandigarh to watch all prisons
  • Well-equipped control rooms in all jails
  • Central jails to have 64 CCTV cameras and district jails 32
  • 35 sniffer dogs and 500 walkie-talkie sets being purchased
  • Tenders floated to buy 10 X-ray baggage machines
  • New security locks for jails

Lack of well-equipped control rooms in jails is yet another concern flagged in the proposal, besides “severe shortage of vehicles”.

While the government has given nod to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all jail gates, the department has sought approval to extend this project to cover important points in all prisons and high-security zones.

The report states that morale of the jail personnel is low and that there is huge stagnation at the posts of warders, head warders and assistant superintendent.

To overcome this, the proposal says, promotion avenues needed to be increased as recommended earlier and six months before retirement, the jail staff should be given one upper rank to boost the “morale and dignity” and underscores the need to recognise the dedication of the prison staff.

First Published: Feb 22, 2017 12:08 IST