“Sheran nu shikaar kite time ho gaya, esey gall geedadaan nu veham ho gaya (It’s been long since the lion went out on hunt, hence jackals are living in a misconception).” This was a post put up by two inmates on their Facebook page from Faridkot jail, with their selfie inside a barrack.
Another inmate had marked “check in at Faridkot Central Jail” on his Facebook page. The post also had a photo of him behind the bars with a caption: “Jail ko to yun hi badnaam kar diya varna jail mein to sher aaram karte hain (Jails are defamed for no reason, jails are where lions take rest)”.
During the clash between police and prisoners Thursday in Ludhiana Central Jail, some inmates allegedly went Live on Facebook using their mobile phones, giving a peep into the riot like situation that prevailed inside. In the videos shared allegedly by inmates, they could be seen armed with sticks and rods and alleging on camera that they were being “tortured and hit with bullets by the police”. Some also showed their bleeding wounds. One inmate died allegedly in police firing.
The Punjab jail inmates’ love for social media is not a new one and something that successive governments have failed to curb.
The inmates keep giving a peep into the life behind the bars using their mobile phones – something that is ‘banned’ in jails. They love to flaunt their stay in jail and appear on social media posting selfies from inside the barracks, putting up photographs of pizza and birthday parties and sometime even posing handcuffed with policemen.
They even “check in” into the jails on social media and what follows is hundreds of comments by their ‘followers’ who express pride on their ‘veer’ (brother) being lodged in jail. Some inmates also write captions, expressing ‘pride’ on being lodged in jail and saying hello to their “fans and followers” outside.
Such posts have also given birth to fan pages like “Popular Faces of Malwa Gangsters” on Facebook where photos of “popular” gangsters in Punjab jails are regularly posted for “fans”. In one such post, a group of inmates, are seen posing for a photo with ‘Barrack number 3’ in the background.
In another post, from Faridkot jail, a group photo was posted with a caption that reads, “Saadi pahunch di na gall kar sajna, Kamm saarey phone tey hi kara deyide hai (A phone is enough for us to get all works done).
“Maan bada hunda hai sheran nu hatth sangal maar ke (Lions feel proud when they are handcuffed),” posted an inmate from Faridkot jail with his photo showing him handcuffed.
Another inmate had put up a photo from behind bars with the boast that “Judge vi uthke maarda salute, jadon kehchairyaan ch paindi tareekan tere yaar diyaan (Judges also salute when your friend is taken to court for hearing).
“Hathiyaar to hum shouk ke liye rakhte hain, khouf ke liye to naam hi kaafi hai (We keep weapons only for pleasure, the name is enough to instill fear),” reads the caption with another group photo of inmates of Faridkot jail.
In May this year, an inmate, Gobind Singh, went live on Facebook from Faridkot jail and criticized Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh questioning why drugs were still openly available in Punjab.
‘3G jammers lying non-functional’
Speaking to The Indian Express, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that the only way to block Internet connectivity in jails was by installing jammers, which cost Rs 1.50 crore each. “3G jammers installed previously are lying non-functional. There is no way to upgrade them. This is why inmates are having free flow of Internet. We have proposed to install 5G jammers now, which cost Rs 1.50 crore each. They will be installed in all jails once approval comes from central ministry. We will float tenders soon,” he said.