Rajdeep Benipal Chandigarh/Ludhiana
It seems that all is not well in jails of Punjab as recovery of drugs, mobile phones and other prohibited items has become a routine affair. Moreover, the jail staff were running an extortion racket in jails and providing prohibiting items to inmates.The allegations of extorting money inside jails have brought the role of the Jail Department under scanner. The statement of Brajesh Thakur, accused of the Muzzarfur Shelter Home sex scandal that gangsters in connivance with jail officials have tortured and thrashed him and demanded money in Patiala Jail, has exposed the functioning of the Jail Department.
Following the incident, a probe was handed over to the Organised Crime Control Unit (OCCU). Last month, IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh quizzed a former Superintendent of Patiala Jail. During the probe, a jail inmate accused jail officials and gangsters of extorting Rs 15 lakh from him. It has become a routine matter as mobile phones, drugs and other objectionable items were recovered from the jail premises every day. Though the jail staff register a case against the inmates after the recovery of mobile phones, drugs or other items, the source of the banned items inside the jail premises was never disclosed or probed.
A few months ago, an inmate of Patiala Jail recorded and posted a video in which he revealed that jail staff under the nose of the Jail Superintendent charge money for providing mobile phones and drugs inside jails. In the video recording, it was seen that the jail staff were thrashing inmates. On February 2, a gangster lodged in Ludhiana Central Jail fell ill after he consumed excess dosage of drugs. It is also a matter of investigation that how the gangster got drugs inside the jail.
Apart from extortion racket, the medical facilities in jails were nil. The news reports revealed that the inmates have to be rushed to civil hospitals as the jail hospitals lack basic facilities.In December last year, an employee of the Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation (PASCO), deputed at Ludhiana Central Jail, was arrested for supplying drugs, tobacco products and mobile phones to jail inmates. The jail authorities recovered 40 bundles of beedi, tobacco items and Rs 500 in cash.