An assistant superintendent of Patiala Central Jail has been suspended for permitting a journalist to meet death row prisoner Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted in the assassination of the former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
Senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu and Gurmeet Singh Pinky (a militant-turned-policeman who was convicted in a murder case and was released on remission on May 5, 2014) had gone to meet Rajoana in the jail on Saturday according to a jail official.
“Assistant superintendent (Patiala Central Jail) Jagmail Singh has been placed on suspension for allowing unauthorised meeting of Sandhu with Rajoana. Sandhu was accompanied by Gurmeet Singh Pinky,” said Punjab jails department Deputy Inspector General and Jails department spokesperson L S Jakhar.
Jail officials said the meeting took place in the corridor of the jail at about 1 pm. It became public knowledge after Rajoana allegedly “assaulted” Sandhu while he was being interviewed, Jakhar said. He said a probe had been ordered into the incident.
“Only people having blood relations or counsel of the inmate can have a meeting in the jail. There is a list of 10 persons who could meet Rajoana,” Jakhar said.
Sandhu said he had accompanied Rajoana’s brother-in-law Baljit Singh to meet Rajoana. “Rajoana’s relative had said that he wanted to meet me. I learnt later that only blood relations can meet (the inmate),” Sandhu said. He also said that Rajaona had attempted to assault him and that he was unhurt. “There was an argument in the jail. I have not lodged any complaint,” he added. Sandhu later put out a statement on his Facebook page, describing the incident as “unfortunate” and detailing the circumstances under which he went to meet Rajaona on the insistence of his sister.
Jagmail Singh, the suspended official said he allowed the meeting only at the insistence of Rajaona’s brother-in-law.