The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rule-break slur on shunted jail chief

Ahmedabad, Nov. 20: Inspector-general (prisons) H.R. Gahlot today blamed Sanjiv Bhatt for the chaos in Sabarmati jail, even as some inmates continued their protest against the superintendent’s transfer.

Gahlot lashed out at reforms undertaken by Bhatt, which had made him popular despite his short stint, in an indication that the government might initiate disciplinary action against the superintendent for “spoiling the order and discipline in the jail”.

Gahlot alleged that, “in the name of reforms”, Bhatt had “dissolved the jail panchayat and had set up a committee”.

Bhatt had allowed easy entry for food, sweets and other items into the jail and the drug Mandrax (a sedative) was also found in the barracks, claimed Gahlot.

The reforms Bhatt had initiated, “throwing the jail manual to the winds” had created a chaotic situation in the jail, asserted Gahlot.

The inspector-general’s statement indicated that inmates were still protesting. Most undertrials who get food from home refused to eat for the third consecutive day today.

Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer who had been posted to the jail on September 8, got his marching orders late on Monday night. This led most inmates to go on a hungerstrike on Tuesday.

Eight prisoners had attempted suicide yesterday by slashing their wrists, swallowing pills and beating their heads against the walls and were taken to the Sola civil hospital early this morning, according to sources.

Some inmates also filed a petition challenging the order in Gujarat High Court. The court today instructed the government to file an affidavit by Monday about the facts related to the transfer.

Sources said the jail department has prepared a detailed report on Bhatt’s activities in the jail, which will be submitted in the court.

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