Prisons virtually club houses for inmates: Former DGP Prisons on Nabha jailbreak

Shahshikant said he had tried to improve the situation in Punjab’s jails but failed.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Published:November 28, 2016 4:18 am
Nabha jail after the incident on Sunday. Harmeet Sodhi Nabha jail after the incident on Sunday. Harmeet Sodhi

REACTING SHARPLY to the Nabha jailbreak, former Director General of Prisons, Punjab, Shashikant, said prisons in Punjab were virtual ‘club houses’ for the criminals because of the patronage of politicians enjoyed by them.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Shashikant, who retired as DGP, Prisons, in June 2012, said unless the issue of political patronage to gangsters was addressed, such incidents would continue. “These prisons, including the high-security Nabha jail, where the most dreaded criminals are lodged, including several convicted terrorists, are nothing but a place for fun and frolic for the politically connected gangsters. I have no doubt that these are just club houses for the prisoners who get every illegal facility that can be offered to them,” he said.

Shahshikant said he had tried to improve the situation in Punjab’s jails but failed.

“There was massive political interference on the steps initiated by me to ensure security of prisons. Bureaucracy also had a lukewarm response due to ulterior motives. I had opposed the random parole being granted by the political authorities but my objections had no effect. I had also transferred some prisoners who were known to have political patronage to high-security prisons, but I was told to cancel their transfer orders. In addition, I had demanded three-tier perimeter security for jails, which was to be augmented by mobile patrolling by personnel who would be changed at regular intervals. This proposal, too, did not see the light of day becuse of the lack of interest shown by the state government. I had also brought these measures to the notice of a three-member committee of sitting high court judges in 2012,” he said.

Again, when he was DGP, Prisons, Shashikant had made two recommendations to the government as well as a three-member committee of the high court in order to improve jail management and ensure security. “I had explicitly said that it was not advisable to lodge prisoners accused of petty crimes along with dreaded gangsters. More often than not, these petty criminals deliberately get jailed in order to meet these very gangsters who are their handlers from inside jails and then they hatch plots to commit crimes when they get bail,” he said.

The former DGP said the Nabha jailbreak plot could have been hatched in a similar manner where a prisoner, who had been inside briefly, was given responsibility of carrying out the jailbreak after observing the prison staff and holding confabulations with gangsters. “It does not make sense to lodge those accused of crimes under Section 107/51 of the CrPC in a maximum security prison with dreaded criminals. Obviously these accused are getting access to the jail for a reason and they must be kept out and not allowed to enter such jails,” he said.

“Secondly, I had also demanded a complete crackdown on the use of mobile phones from within jails, particularly smartphones, because these were being used by the prisoners to remain in touch with the gangsters on the loose outside the prisons and to coordinate crime activities with them,” Shashikant said. The demand for installing mobile signal jammers in prisons has been long pending and not fully implemented either, adding that he did not know what became of his recommendations after he retired.

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  1. A
    Nov 28, 2016 at 12:53 am
    Who does not know that criminals have political patronage in India ??? That is why the law and order is what it is today ! lt;br/gt;Police is used to protect corrupt politicians and their goons, not the common man !
    1. K
      Nov 28, 2016 at 12:56 am
      If Politicians in India are honest 90% of the crimes will just not happen. This escape has everything to do with the Badal government and their closeness to corruption and carnage. Every Indian knows that without the politician, police and courts no criminal can escape, all the three people help or hang the criminals, depending on their usefulness.
      1. H
        Nov 28, 2016 at 2:09 am
        Nothing;br/gt;lt;br/gt;We get to hear retired Babus making these statements .lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Arre Bhai we have a PM who you should have sent your report;br/gt;lt;br/gt;PM would have had things changed
        1. K
          Kunuthur Srinivasa
          Nov 28, 2016 at 1:09 am
          That, fence grazing the crop is nothing new. Whereas, I am not sure whether or not the retired DGP (Prisons) Mr. Shashkant exposed this issue raised now, before the media while in service with the obvious fear of incurring the wrath of the vested interests among bureaucrats and politicians. It is not possible to achieve anything in life for anybody on compromise in ethics and human values. Fear is the worst enemy for all humans, the worldover. Shriman Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India after independence could not have enforced the unity of India but for his iron will to unite India notwithstanding that he was not chosen for the Prime Ministership of India although the Congress working committee in nearly absolute majority (13 out of 15 members) opted in his favour. Afterall, positions no matter, if one has a determination and will to accomplish the task particularly in the national interest.
          1. S
            Sashi Pillai
            Nov 28, 2016 at 7:22 am
            This is the real India forget about a growing economy as long as we have these corrupt politicians thing will never get better as India will remain a poor backward country.
            1. V
              Nov 28, 2016 at 2:18 am
              things will not change until such expert advise from experienced administrators and 'high powered' committees don't get converted to orders that will reliably invite punitive action upon the officialdom if not implemented in the letter and spirit of the law
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