The officials of the Barabanki district jail are alleged to be involved in a ‘scam’ by supplying lemon to almost all prisoners when the common man found it difficult to ‘taste’ it due to soaring prices.
A cursory glance at the purchase of lemon by the jail authorities in Barabanki in the first quarter of this year leaves one surprised, as the figures show that every prisoner was getting at least one lemon daily.
Sources said that about 40 kilograms of lemons were purchased daily by the jail officials which add up to 36 quintals in the first three months of this year.
Interestingly, denying any scam or irregularity, jail officials said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lemons were given to the prisoners every day on the advice of doctors.
The prisoners, however, denied this and claimed that nothing was served for ‘free’ in the jail and if one was ready to pay for ‘services’, one could enjoy all comforts.
Sources said that when the price of lemon during this period was running from Rs 150 to Rs 300 per kg and the common man was craving for the taste of lemon, heavy purchases made by jail officials pointed to some scam but only a probe would reveal the truth behind the ‘kindness’ of the jail officials towards prisoners by serving them a lemon daily.
It may be mentioned that on an average, about 1400 prisoners are lodged in the 20 barracks of the district jail. In January, February and March, when the prices of lemon were sky high, a lemon was given to a prisoner every day during that period. This way, about 40 kg of lemons were procured in a day. On an average, Rs 8,000 were spent on the basis Rs 200 per kg price of lemon.
Jail officials are making different statements in this regard.
Jail Superintendent Haribaksh Singh said that due to COVID-19 pandemic, a lemon was being given to the prisoners every day with the meal and the lemon was procured from the vegetable supplier in Barabanki.
Jailer Alok Shukla said on the advice of doctors, the prisoners were given lemon. Surprisingly, now in the scorching heat, not a single lemon has been purchased by the jail officials for about one and a half months, including April and May.
DIG (Jail) Sanjeev Tripathi said that only those prisoners who were on duty in the Bhandara in the jail were given lemon on the advice of doctors. If one lemon per prisoner was given in Barabanki jail, then the officers there would answer it, he said, adding that he had not received any complaint in this regard.
It is worth mentioning that a few days ago, on the complaint of the prisoners, an investigation into a 50 kg lemon scam was made in Punjab Jail and the jailer was suspended. In the Modern Jail of Kapurthala, the jail was inspected by the minister there and a scam was detected.