Now when the Burail jailbreak case is entering its final stage, the authorities have woken up to the fact that three jail officials, including present superintendent Amandeep Singh, have gone back on their statements and, therefore, declared hostile by the court.
IG (Prisons) A S Cheema said that he was going through their statements in the court and those recorded by the police during investigation. “In case an official has actually resiled from his version to damage the case, appropriate action will be taken,” Cheema said.
In the Burail jailbreak case, Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, all accused in the case of assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, along with another inmate Devi Singh, had escaped from the jail by digging a tunnel on January 21-22, 2002. The case is being tried in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Anubhav Sharma.
Jail Superintendent Amandeep Singh refused to identify in court his signatures on a seizure memo. Amandeep, who was then assistant superintendent of the prison, said in the court that he “did not know who appended fake signatures on the memo’’. Following this, he was declared hostile last year.
Warder Ram Mehar told in his evidence that he did not disclose the noises coming from barrack no. 7 to any of the senior officers of the jail and had only informed the patrolling staff. This was at variance with his statement to the police.
However, during cross-examination, he said he had informed assistant superintendent P S Rana, superintendent D S Rana, deputy superintendent D S Sandhu, warder Nishan Singh and chakkar hawaldar Inder Singh about the noises but he was asked to “keep doing his duty as the matter was already in their notice”.
Another warder, Jagtar Singh who was later promoted as a head constable, had stated in his examination in chief that he had informed about the noises from barrack no. 7 to Nishan Singh, while in his statement to the police he had stated that he had also informed senior officers. After this, he was declared hostile. However, in his cross-examination, Jagtar Singh said he had informed senior officers too.
Explaining the change in the stance of the officials, district attorney Rajinder Singh said, “These witnesses were declared hostile to help the prosecution. These officials were not able to remember properly the facts they had mentioned in their statements to the police. So to aid them in remembering, the judicial process involved declaring them hostile so that the prosecution can be helped.”
Public Prosecutor J P Singh said, “These witnesses were examined after a gap of almost a decade. They were declared hostile so that they could be shown the statements they gave to the police at the time of the investigation. If their hostility affects the case at the time of the result, then an action is made out against them.”
The two claimed that these witnesses, in their cross-examination, had admitted to all facts which helped the prosecution. J P Singh said that at the time when they deposed in the court, the warders were under “pressure”.
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