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In Hawara’s cell where they plotted Burail jailbreak,inmates broke fasts in navratras & rozas

Jail officials say that this made it easier for them to provide the food that was prepared specially for the inmates.

The prison cell that once housed Jagtar Singh Hawara,an accused in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh,was used by the Burail Jail authorities this year for housing inmates who were fasting for navratras and rozas. Jail officials say that this made it easier for them to provide the food that was prepared specially for the inmates and had to be served at specific times.

It was in 2004 that three of the nine accused in the assassination case along with an undertrial made a sensational escape from the Model Jail,Burail,by digging a 104-foot-long tunnel. Apart from Hawara,the others were Jagtar Singh Tara,Paramjit Singh Bheora and Ved Singh. The probe into the case had revealed that it had taken over a year for the accused to dig the tunnel. Soil equivalent to eight truckloads had been dug out. It was spread in the kitchen garden of the barrack and flushed down the toilet.

Due to the investigation into the jailbreak,the tunnel could not be filled up. It was in the year 2010 that the permission for the same was given. The tunnel has now been filled using sand and concrete. At several places on the stretch,the tunnel had also caved in. During the repair,at regular intervals along the tunnel concrete walls were built to strengthen it.

However,the cell has not housed prisoners since then. This year the jail officials made a list of prisoners who wanted to observe fasts. Around 30 of them gave their names and were housed separately for the duration of the fasts in this cell.

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Prison Welfare Officer Praveen Kumar says,“Special food was prepared for the inmates who observed the fast. In order to make it easy for food to be distributed,the inmates were housed separately. Instead of having to go to every cell and asking for the prisoners who were fasting,we kept them together. It made work of the staff easier.”

The inmates had to be served food in the wee hours during the rozas and food for them was prepared without salt during the navratras. Instead of looking for the inmates when food had to be served,the jail authorities found it more feasible to keep them in the cell from where Hawara had escaped.

Among the accused in the case who are still in Burail Jail,Gurmit Singh,who was an engineer,is known to be soft- spoken while Lakhwinder Singh,as per jail officials,is in the habit of complaining. The two along with Shamsher Singh had been awarded life imprisonment in the case. It was on August 31,1995,that Beant Singh was killed in a blast outside the Secretariat. Seventeen others were also killed.

First published on: 28-10-2013 at 04:02:54 am
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