Chandigarh: Former Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu surrendered in a Patiala court on Friday afternoon, a day after he was sentenced to one-year jail in a 34-year-old road rage case.
Sidhu, who has his residence in Patiala, reached the district court accompanied by some party leaders; he was then taken to the nearby government hospital for medical check-up before being escorted to the Patiala Central Jail.
Even though Sidhu had reached his Patiala residence on Thursday night, he had sought more time from the Supreme Court to surrender, saying he had some medical issues which he needed to address. However, the apex court asked him to file a formal application before the chief justice’s court.
On Thursday, the top court had enhanced Sidhu's punishment to one-year rigorous imprisonment, four years after it let him off with a fine of Rs 1,000. (A 65-year-old man had died after an altercation with Sidhu in case of road rage.)
Scotching speculation that Sidhu will be treated like royalty in jail, since Patiala is his home-town, Punjab Jail Minister Harjot Singh Bains said that his government had already stamped out VIP culture in jail; now, all inmates live in similar conditions and are offered the same facilities. ``It would be the same for Navjot Singh Sidhu or anyone else’’, he told the media.
According to jail manual, the inmates’ day begins at 5.30 am; they go to work after breakfast at 8.30 am and are relieved at 5.30 pm. This could entail working for roughly eight hours on a farm or in a factory. If an inmate is lucky, he could land in the prison library. They get back to their barracks by 7 pm after dinner. Sidhu would also have to abide by the jail dress code and don white clothes mandatory for convicts inside jail.
SWORN ENEMIES IN SAME JAIL
Sidhu has been lodged in the same jail, where his enemy number one, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Majithia, is lodged and facing trial in a drug case; incidentally, it was Sidhu who was instrumental in booking Majithia in the said case ahead of February assembly polls.
Even though the two fought against each other in the Amritsar (east) Assembly seat, both were trounced by a first-timer AAP candidate. However, undertrials and convicts have barracks in separate sections on the prison campus. While Majithia is an undertrial, Sidhu is a convict.
PUNJAB CONG BACKS SIDHU
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and Congress legislature party leader Partap Singh Bajwa took to Twitter in support of Sidhu. Warring, who succeeded Sidhu as the state Congress chief, said he stood by his senior colleague and his family. “With due respect for the verdict of the Supreme Court, I stand by my senior colleague @sherryontopp Ji and his family at this difficult hour,” he tweeted. Likewise, Bajwa also said the Punjab Congress would stand firmly behind Sidhu and his family.