Chandigarh, May 1: Over 1,500 mobile phones were seized in Punjab prisons in year 2017, Jail Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said. After holding a review meeting with senior officers of all jails in the state, Randhawa ordered a ban on carrying mobile phones inside jail except for jail superintendent.
"During the year 2017, a total of 1,500 mobile phones have been recovered from inside the jails which is a cause of concern," Randhawa said here.
He said in order to stop this trend, the Additional Chief Secretary would instruct all the district police chiefs to probe the mobile recovery cases in an in-depth manner.
"Any jail officer or official found guilty will be given exemplary punishment," he said.
Randhawa informed that many inmates of the jails were suffering from various ailments and such inmates would be well looked after. He also said that around 651 inmates were HIV positive. He said health insurance scheme for the jail inmates would be contemplated. He also added that the health of the inmates would be given topmost priority inside the jails for which he would demand from the Health Ministry to depute expert doctors on permanent basis.
At present, the Jail Department purchases medicines from the Health Department and provides these to the jail inmates for free of cost. Besides, the proposal for according sanction to the installation of 4G jammer in the jails has been sent to the Union Home Ministry and full body scanner installation is also being contemplated, the minister said.
The minister said that today's meeting attended by the high ranking officers of the department and the superintendents of all jails, was convened to review the security of jails in Punjab besides the loopholes and implementing the reforms. He further said that after the meeting, it was decided to equip the jails with all the state of the art technological paraphernalia so as to curb illegal activities and recruiting new staff in the jails which would be done soon.
The jail minister further elaborated that those inmates of the jails who are desirous of pursuing academics would be provided with the congenial atmosphere and all assistance. Randhawa, MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, said that 10 sniffer dogs would be recruited as part of the reforms to be carried out in the Jail Department. The minister informed that during the recently held passing out parade, 150 new staff joined the department and the passing out parade of 375 newly recruited staff would be conducted at the end of this month.
He said the process to recruit 210 wardens and 57 matrons is going on. He further disclosed that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has approved the recruitment of additional 420 staff for the department and the recruitment process would begin soon. He also said that PPSC had been approached regarding the recruitment of 10 Deputy Superintendents and the Staff Selection Board had been approached with regard to the recruitment of 38 Assistant Superintendents. He also said that the recruitment process would fill the shortfall of staff inside jails.
Regarding the capacity of jails and the number of inmates, Randhawa said that the total capacity of the Punjab jails is 23,218 whereas the inmates number 22,375. The minister said there are 1,119 female inmates while the foreign inmates amount to 132. The total number of undertrial is 13,000 and out of 132 foreign inmates, 34 are serving their sentence while 98 are undertrials. The inmates serving sentences under NDPS Act amount to 40 per cent. A new jail at a cost of Rs 194 crore is coming up at Goindwal Sahib which is 60 per cent complete.