Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Lakhminder Singh Jakhar has resigned from his post expressing solidarity with the protesting farmers.
Recently posted to Chandigarh, the 56-year-old officer was suspended in May this year while serving as Amritsar DIG (Prisons) on corruption charges. It was alleged that he took money from jail officials on a monthly basis. A complaint against him was filed by Deputy Superintendent Vijay Kumar posted at Patti sub-jail. He alleged that Jakhar had demanded a bribe from him in April. He claimed he and another jail employee had paid money to the DIG’s driver as per the complaint. An inquiry was conducted by the IG (jails) which had recommended action against him.
Accordingly, he was put under suspension in May this year.
ADGP (Jails) Parveen Kumar Sinha told The Indian Express, “He has submitted his resignation to D K Tiwari, Principal Secretary Home, department of jails. A copy has also been marked to me. Hence, I am aware of this development. He was reinstated about two months back and was currently posted at Chandigarh headquarters.”
When contacted, Jail Minister Sukjinder Singh Randhawa said, “I have come to know about resignation of Lakhminder Singh Jakhar. We will take legal opinion from our legal remembrancer (LR) whether to accept his resignation as inquiry is still going on against him.”
Randhawa said, “He was reinstated in October-end and was posted at Chandigarh Headquarters.” Sources said although he was reinstated, the inquiry into bribery charges has still not been closed by the department. There is another inquiry pending against him regarding submission of an affidavit in the High Court.
However, speaking to The Indian Express, Jakhar said, “I had submitted my resignation on Saturday. I have completed all the formalities. Therefore, I don’t think that there will be any hassle in accepting my resignation.”
In his resignation letter which was submitted on December 12, the DIG wrote, “I shall be depositing a sum equivalent to an amount of pay and allowances as required by the government in the treasury to exempt me from the stipulated time of advance notice. It is, therefore, requested that I may be treated as prematurely retired from the service w.e.f 12th December, 2020.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I am a farmer first and later a police officer. Whatever position I have got today, it is because my father worked as a farmer in the fields and he made me study. Hence, I owe everything I have to farming.”
Jakhar served as a Captain in 14 PUNJAB (NABHA AKAL) regiment as short service commission officer from 1989-1994. Later, he joined the Punjab Police. His first posting was as Superintendent of Police, sub-jail, Barnala. Later, he held different posts in Punjab. He said, “In the Army, most part of my service was in J&K. I had gone for training to Madras in 1987 before my first posting in 1989.”
Jakhar’s joint family has about 40 acres of farming land at Killianwali village in Abohar constituency of Punjab. Out of this, 22 acres fall in his share. He said, “We have not given land on contract and even today, we do farming ourselves.
So, I am aware of the challenges a farmer faces. My mother Gobind Pal Kaur, who is 81 years of age, still does farming and supervises the entire farming operations at the village. I could not look into her eyes, when she asked me what my opinion was of our farmer brothers and sisters who have been braving cold in Delhi since November 26. They have been on roads in Punjab since mid-September.”
“My mother encouraged me to resign so that I could sit with farmers in Delhi. I am likely to visit Delhi soon. I stand by my farmers,” he said.
On September 30, Jakhar had posted a picture in which he was standing in his fields at Killianwali village with a message: “I am a farmer, I support the farmers from my heart.”
Jakhar’s wife Parampal Kaur said, “I am proud of his decision and I think we all should support farmers.”
Jakhar has two sons. The elder son, Kanwar Mehboob Singh, is studying civil engineering in the USA while the younger son, Kanwar Mehtab, is a final-year law student and a young farmer.
Jakhar said, “Even while serving as an officer, I never disconnected myself from village life and farming. I used to visit my native village regularly. My sons too were introduced to farming so that they know what farming is, no matter whatever field they study.”
The DIG said, “Our elders are sitting in the cold on roads. Our motherly figures are also there. My children asked me what my role is as a farmer. So I decided to quit and sit with them. I need to tell my generations to come that I too played a little role in protesting against the farm laws which farmers don’t want.”
In 2012, Jakhar had hit the headlines when he was serving as Patiala Jail Superintendent and had returned the death warrants of Balwant Singh Rajona, a convict in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.