Mumbai, Jun 12: Eight staffers of Arthur Road jail are now under the scanner after a recently conducted raid found appliances and food items from the barracks.
A confidential report highlighting the raid details and the role the eight staffers played in helping the prisoners, has been submitted to the government.
Nearly a truckload of prohibited goods including utensils, cooking material, a cellphone, battery chargers and mobile recharge coupons, which illegally made their way inside the high-security prison, have been recently confiscated.
Officials from the rank of jailor to guards have been put under scanner for their alleged connivance with the prisoners and an inquiry has been initiated in the case. Stringent disciplinary action will be taken against those officials found guilty for dereliction of duty.
Inspector General (Prisons) Srikant Savarakar confirmed the involvement of a few jail staffers and said that action would be taken against them accordingly. He added, “They continue to play all sorts of tricks and we continue to counter attack. We have to be extra vigilant to curb them.”
Meanwhile, State Minister (Home and Prisons, Horticulture) Sidharam Mhetre said, “I am yet to go through the reports, but any action, if at all, will be taken only after having a dialogue with the concerned jail officials.”
The recently concluded weeklong search inside the prison and the subsequent seizure of banned items (see box) has blown up the nexus between the jail staffers and criminals lodged inside the prison.
Jail inmates reveal that there is an elite coterie inside that gets the best of everything.
For them, it’s as good as it gets outside the prison — or even better. But after the recent seizure, this might soon come to an end.
Mustafa Dossa commands respect
The hierarchy of jail inmates has Mustafa Dossa as the senior most — he can still dictate terms to other inmates and jail staffers.
No one crosses his path. The Dawood gang members come next. Iqbal Kaskar, Tariq Parveen and others constantly get into tussles with Chhota Rajan gang members like D K Rao, Vicky Malhotra and Farid Tanasha for supremacy.
The gangsters believe that Abu Salem’s gang was rated third in their community. The Gawli gang stays out of this race, as they are not housed at the Arthur Road Jail. After Salem’s arrival, the Naik and Manchekar gangsters have been moved to the general barracks.
Biryani, cutting chai
Enquiries have revealed that gangsters from Dawood Ibrahim, Chotta Rajan and Pandav Putra gang were running a parallel kitchen inside their barracks. Junior gang members who are good cooks, usually make special biryani and tea for their bosses lodged inside.
Jail inmates have further revealed that they used innovative methods to light their kitchen fires. The prisoner stocked some chapatis daily, and when they saved a substantial number, the dry chapattis were used as fuel.
“Some use heated oil containers, kept between two bricks, to cook rice, tea and other dishes,” an undertrial said.
A jail official said that the parallel kitchen used to function at night, when jail activities were comparatively slow and there were fewer guards on duty. Inmates, on their return from court hearings, smuggled most of the food items inside the jail, said a senior official.
A jail official pointed out that in all, items worth Rs 25,000 were recovered during the raids. Most of the seized items (food grains, pulses and other consumables) were destroyed inside the jail premises on May 5.
Utensils and other non-perishable items seized have been sealed and kept in the godown. The prison now has over 2,700 undertrials, over three times the actual capacity of 800.
Jail superintendent Sathe confirmed the seizures. She said, “We are carrying out necessary corrective steps to prevent such happenings in the future. Also, such searches will be a continous process”.
Mobile phone puzzle
Both the Mumbai police and jail officials are puzzled by the seizure of a mobile phone without a SIM card from the hospital yard. The handset is worrying for the crime branch who are still probing into how the mobile phone reached Chotta Rajan gangster D K Rao inside the jail.
The police have already invoked stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) on D K Rao for his underworld activities from jail. Sources have not ruled out the slapping charges on the jail staff found in connivance with the gangster.
“We are closely monitoring all happenings inside Arthur Road jail and are in constant dialogue with the jail officials,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Meeran Borwarnkar.
As per the state government’s proposal, all criminals and gangsters involved in serious offences and presently lodged in Arthrur Road, Thane, Kalyan and Raigad jails will be shifted here to avoid over crowding of prisons and curb illegal activities inside the prison.
Inspector General of Police (Prisons), Srikant Savarkar, said, “Eight new jails are being planned in the state, including one at Taloja, to be completed by the end of the 2006. The jail will have a capacity to house 2,000 prisoners.
Thirty three additional barracks will also be built, and over 700 prisoners will be moved to vacant jails.”
“With the new jails, the capacity to house inmates will increase from 16,000 to 20,000 by 2007. There will also be a video conferencing facility at 17 courts in Mumbai and balwadis for children of women prisoners,” explained a Mantralaya official.