01:27 GMT04 April 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Punjab currently has 19 jails that house 25,000 inmates against a capacity of 23,500. Fearing the spread of coronavirus in prisons, the state government now plans to release those who were held for drug smuggling or petty crimes.

    Coronavirus has already claimed three lives and infected 130 people in India, however the pandemic might be a blessing in disguise for some 5,800 inmates of Punjab jails as the authorities have decided to release them.

    Prisons Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that they have proposed to release 2,800 inmates who are in jail for petty crimes like bag snatching and 3,000 criminals who were caught with small quantities of drugs.

    The minister had a meeting with the state chief Amarinder Singh and the final decision will be taken after taking advice from anti-drug special task force (STF) and senior superintendents of police.

    The minister also expressed concern that crime rate may go up after the release of the prisoners.

    “State’s director general of police and additional director general of police (jails) have discussed the issue and a decision will be taken accordingly. Also, we are sanitising the jails as a preventive measure against the Coronavirus,” he said.

    Punjab currently has 19 jails, housing 25,000 inmates against a capacity of 23,500.

    All jail chiefs have been asked to process cases of parole to identified convicts subjected to the fulfilment of certain conditions.

    On Monday, the Supreme Court of India flagged the issue of overcrowding in jails and recommended upgrading prison infrastructure.

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    Tags:
    drug smuggling, Punjab, prisons, jails, coronavirus, COVID-19, India
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