Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Prisoner Majithia: VIP barracks, own food, ‘special’ jailor

From his prison arrangements to the officials manning them, all have been the subject of controversy since Majithia went in.

Bikram Singh MajithiaBikram Singh Majithia (file photo)

One of the most powerful leaders during the Akali government, and one of Punjab’s most untouchable for years after, Bikram Singh Majithia’s clout is now making news from behind the bars.

On Tuesday, the Akali Dal leader, who was held days to go for the Punjab Assembly elections and lodged in Patiala Central Jail for one-and-a-half months, moved court against transfer to another barrack, saying he feared a threat to his life.

But from his prison arrangements to the officials manning them, all have been the subject of controversy since Majithia went in.

The brother-in-law of former Akali Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Majithia is facing drug cases, registered under several Sections of the NDPS Act, 1985. Following Supreme Court directions, he surrendered on February 24 and has been in jail since.

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Majithia’s lawyer Arshdeep Singh Kler said he was initially remanded to judicial custody in Sangrur jail, but was shifted to the Patiala prison after Sangrur officials said they could not guarantee the right arrangements for Majithia, a Z-plus protectee.

Soon after he landed in Patiala jail, Majithia sought badminton racquets and then got the permission to cook own food rather than have jail meals. Officials cited fresh intelligence inputs of threat to Majithia from pro-Khalistani outfits and gangsters in jail, and moved him to a separate barrack. Informally, this was known as ‘MP ahata’ – a sort of preferential zone in jail for politicians. The ‘ahata’ houses the statue of freedom fighter and Praja Movement leader Sewa Singh Thikriwala and is said to have housed prominent politicians in Patiala jail.


After allegations surfaced of preferential treatment to the VIP prisoner, Majithia was shifted to ‘faansi chakki’ and ‘jaura chakki’. Kler claims the Akali leader was moved there despite the fact that he was a first-time prisoner and these enclosures were meant for “dreaded criminals”.

Then came news of a host of Akali leaders being able to meet Majithia in jail, with some even pitching a tent outside the prison premises as part of a “pucca morcha” protest against his arrest.

Another controversy broke soon after, when Patiala Jail Superintendent Shivraj Singh was replaced with Sucha Singh. The latter is believed to have grown close to the Badal family when Sukhbir and Akali patron Parkash Singh Badal were jailed during 2003 by the then Congress government.


When reports surfaced of Sucha having hosted Sukhbir at his official quarters in Patiala Jail when the latter visited Majithia in jail for his birthday on March 1, the new Jail Superintendent defended it, saying he often had inmates from his previous stint as jail superintendent over.

Akali Dal spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said the row over Majithia was “vendetta politics” and “the rule of law should prevail”.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring saw the controversies as “a strategy by Majithia to get bail”.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which has built its campaign and government in Punjab around claims of being different from other parties and ending the state’s drugs problem, has been trying hard to curtail the fallout.

Soon after the row, Jails Minister Harjot Singh Bains did a surprise check of Patiala Jail. As part of it, he ordered the frisking of Majithia, supposedly to quash allegations of him using a mobile phone inside.

No phone was found on Majithia.

First published on: 12-04-2022 at 09:21:45 pm
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