New Delhi: The Director General (Prisons) Punjab, Shashi Kant, on Friday said that he would take strict action against all those police personnel who "stooped" to the level of touching the feet of Bibi Jagir Kaur, the former Punjab Cabinet Minister who on Friday, was charged with the murder of her daughter and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment in Patiala jail.
In an interview with Network 18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, DG Shashi Kant denied reports that the former minister was being given special treatment in the jail.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Rajdeep Sardesai: The inquiry into Bibi Jagir Kaur, the former Punjab Cabinet Minister who resigned last week, after being charged with five years of rigorous imprisonment, charged with the death of her daughter. Well... Bibi Jagir Kaur is being given special treatment in the Punjab Jail. Joining us now is Mr Shashi Kant, DG (Prisons) Punjab.
Appreciate your joining us sir. The big question I am going to ask you is that, you ordered an inquiry. Would it be fair to say that the inquiry was only ordered after the media reports came in?
Shashi Kant: Yeah I have admit that it came in. There are officers who are telling me that no special treatment was being measured out to the lady Mrs Jagir Kaur but of course there was a lot of media hype on that question. So I thought that it is very important to get things clear once for all. So I have ordered this inquiry. I told IG to rush to the spot and go for an inquiry and he can held a press conference and there he can declare the issue.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But Mr Sashi Kant, am I to understand that you required media reports and pictures to come for you to wake up to the fact that Bibi Jagir Kaur was getting special treatment including LCD TVs provided in her jail. She was getting a hot food from home, three times a day, visitors can enter whenever she wants. She is supposed to be five years rigorous imprisonment. What kind of rigorous imprisonment is this?
Shashi Kant: Yeah I will explain the entire issue, if you will permit me. I will just start the story from day one – when this Patiala court had sent her to the Patiala jail. As per the jail manual also of the court order that we have, it is very important for a person like convict to be sent to the place where he or she belongs to. And where trials are going on, it facilitates a lot of things like visiting. Persons who are planning to visit the concerned person and whether the court is going for proper trial... The first request that we got that could she be sent to Kapoorthala jail. Like I have been doing it as per I told you as per the very court directions and the rules that we have.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir you are not answering my basic question. How could you allow someone who is supposed to be under rigorous imprisonment, to get LCD television and dish put up for her, to get three times hot food, to get visitors entering whenever they want. We have a situation where we are told that constables are touching her feet.
Shashi Kant: This is all wrong. That is why I thought I will make the entire picture clear. The lady is there, there is no doubt about it but she is being given the B-class. B-class is certainly better then the normal class, it has other enlistments as per the manual and there is no TV in her room where she is kept. I want to make it very categorically clear.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir, we have shown footage of the people installing the television, we also have footage of the people saying that they have been asked to install a television for Bibi Jagir Kaur.
Shashi Kant: I have seen that footage and that footage was of the persons who were carrying dish television inside the jail premises. Apparently your team has not taken the entire layout of the premises. The moment you enter the prison, it has got the high security wall. On the left hand side, all the resident houses are there. Dish was being taken to the residential houses. Main gate of the prison house is half a kilometre further ahead.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir, are you denying that for Bibi Jagir Kaur, visitors are being allowed to enter freely in prison cell. Are you denying that she is getting hot food three times a day from home? That she has an air conditioner that which has been specifically put in her jail cell... Are you denying all these?
Shashi Kant: I am denying that she has a TV, or she has an air-conditioner. As far as the meetings are concerned, yes the meetings are taking place inside the... And that is again because of the security considerations or the security threat perception... All those things... reports have been given in writing by the concerned SP and the intelligence people that she is not permitted to go and meet the ordinary criminals and sit where other persons sit. The jail manual always prescribed that visitors are permitted to meet the lady or the convict and then to the relatives and the friends.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Shashi Kant, let's be honest, she is an influential minister in your government, it's an Akali government and she is an Akali minister. Are you under political pressure to ensure the best possible treatment for her? Forget about VIP treatment, she is a VVIP prisoner.
Shashi Kant: Mr Sardesai, nobody in Punjab can pressurise me, my history shows that. Nobody has guts to pressurise me, no way.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So if jail officials are found guilty of having provided her special treatment, you people will act against them?
Shashi Kant: Of course, I am not going to leave them, that's why I am sending the IG to go and check it up and if any body is found I assure I will not going to leave anybody.
Rajdeep Sardesai: And it is true that there were policeman who are touching her feet, as she arrived in jail?
Shashi Kant: I have seen that particular snap which was in some of the newspapers. IG is going there and he is checking up. Again I have to check up whether there is an IPC provision which prohibits the person in uniform touching anybody's feet. This is the question of a person's moral standards, if the person has no moral standard then to stoop to that level... certainly departmental inquiry. Whatever is done the department will do an inquiry and I am going to take action and not going to leave anybody, just no question of that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Okay Mr Shashi Kant, you are talking tough at the moment. Appreciate your joining.
DG (Prisons) Punjab Mr Shashi Kant is telling us that... he is insisting that Jagir Kaur will not be given special treatment in Punjab.