May 5, 2020 9:54:46 pm
Facing more than 40 cases of murder, attempt to murder, extortion, and cases under the NDPS Act and Prisons Act, Punjab’s notorious gangster Jagdeep Singh aka Jaggu Bhagwanpuria tested positive for novel coronavirus on Tuesday, sending shock waves in Patiala Central Jail where he was lodged, and in Batala police district where he was brought on production warrant on April 30 in connection with a murder case dating back to November last year.
Around a dozen people, including Patiala Jail Superintendent K S Sandhu, were traced to have come in contact with Jaggu in Patiala and 40 in Batala, including those who brought him from Patiala and interrogated him, were identified for testing, as per the authorities.
Jaggu’s sample was taken on May 2 and he tested positive on Tuesday, Gurdaspur Civil Surgeon Dr. Kishan Chand said.
Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, when contacted, put the blame on the Punjab Police. “He was taken on police remand. [Punjab] DGP or Batala SSP can answer that.”
Asked about the incubation period in the light of the fact that Jaggu was brought by he Batala police on April 30 from Patiala Jail and his sample was taken on May 2, Randhawa said the ADGP (Jails) could answer that.
ADGP (Jails) P K Sinha, when contacted, said, “We don’t know. He is in police custody.” When asked about the incubation period, Sinha said the jails department was working on how Jaggu may have come in contact with someone infected.
Sinha added, “Tracing has been initiated and 11 people, including Jail Superintendent and policeman, are found to have been in contact with him.”
Jaggu, The Indian Express has learnt, was found to be in possession of a mobile phone inside the jail on April 21 and was shifted to “32 chakkian” from high-security zone meant for dreaded criminals and gangsters in Patiala Central Jail.
Sandhu confirmed that Jaggu was shifted to “32 chakkian” after recovery of mobile phone as a “punitive measure” where the inmate is kept in solitary confinement round the clock. In the high-security zone, he said, the dreaded inmate is kept in a separate cell for most part of the day.
Sandhu said that since all new inmates were being sent to Barnala jail in an arrangement made in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, it was highly unlikely that Jaggu may have contracted infection from jail.
Sandhu also said that there may have been a “goof up in sampling”.
Border Zone Inspector General S P S Parmar, however, said Jaggu was the “guest of jails department”. Parmar dismissed Jails Superintendent’s speculation as “merely talks” saying that “on the basis of international medical science, Jaggu had tested positive for coronavirus”.
Parmar said if hundreds of tests were being believed as per the “international medical science”, there was no reason not to believe that Jaggu had tested positive. Parmar said there could be a number of persons ranging from those who gave Jaggu “the food, soap or oil” who could have been positive with novel coronavirus and came in contact with Jaggu in jail.
Jaggu was brought by the Batala police on production warrant in connection with muder of an Akali sarpanch, Dalbir Singh of Dhilwan village in Gurdaspur district, in November last year. Senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia has been alleging a nexus between Jails Minister Sukhijnder Singh Randhawa and Jaggu, calling it a “political murder” and alleging that Jaggu’s mother Harjeet Kaur was acting as “de facto” sarpanch of Bhagwanpur village at the behest of Ranhdhawa, a charge denied by the Jails Minister.
Batala Senior Superintendent of Police Opinderjit Singh Ghuman said, “Jaggu’s sample was being sent for testing again.” Ghuman said Jaggu was “asymptomatic”. He added that as standard operating procedure, samples of all arrested and brought on production warrant were sent for coronavirus testing.
Acquitted in 14 cases
A top Punjab Police officer said Jaggu was involved in 55 criminal cases, including eight murder cases, 23 attempt to murder cases, four NDPS Act cases, five cases under the Prisons Act and cases involving extortions. The officer said out of 55 cases, Jaggu had been acquitted in 14 cases. As per Jaggu’s dossier prepared by the Punjab Police, he has a “nexus with ground level police officers and politicians”. The dossier says he is “operating from inside the jail through mobile phones, social media etc”. It also says that he “can escape the custody any time”. The dossier points out that Jaggu has “rivalry with Davinder [Bambiha] shooter gang” and that “he is also a target of rival gangs who may try to kill him during court peshi”. He was arrested in 2015 during SAD-BJP government.
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