All eyes on jail as court to decide Kasab's fate on May 3

All eyes on jail as court to decide Kasab's fate on May 3

All eyes on jail as court to decide Kasab's fate on May 3

Kasab, who was captured alive by police during the terror attacks, was tried in a special court housed in this central prison where maximum security has been put in place.
Since the trial began a year ago, Kasab has been lodged in a bullet and bomb proof cell especially designed to protect him from any attack. This cell is connected to the court by a tunnel which is also bullet and bomb proof.

The total expenditure incurred on constructing the cell for Kasab and the high security court to try him is to the tune of Rs five crore, according to official sources.
Although the officials are tight-lipped about the total expenses incurred on trying Ajmal Kasab, reports in media said that the government has spent as much as Rs 33 crore so far.

The Pakistani gunman is guarded by Indo-Tibetan Border Security men round the clock. About 200 guards are posted at the jail to provide security to Kasab, sources said.
The jail is divided into two sections -- one housing the special court and Kasab's cell while the other housing 11 barracks, a jail hospital and an egg shaped cell.
The special court -- where Kasab, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed were tried for nearly a year --- is fortified with a thick coat of iron sheet from all four sides to make it bomb and bullet proof.

The court where Kasab was tried was first set up in 1996. Actor Sanjay Dutt and many others were tried here for their role in the 1993 bomb blasts. About 100 were convicted by the court in this trial which lasted for 14 years.

Initially, it was a make shift court but later it was fortified and made a permanent court to try the 1993 blast case. However, after Kasab's arrest the government decided to make it a permanent high security court to try terror cases.

Entry to this court is through a heavily guarded gate where only court staff, lawyers, media persons and policemen, who hold special passes, are allowed. The passes are scanned in a computer which already has been fed with a data about the person seeking entry.

Everyone has to enter his name and pass number in the register while seeking entry and also at the time of exit.

The ITBS guards often parade around the jail to keep a watch in the surroundings. There are at least six watch towers where guards can have a view from the top.
The Arthur Road jail houses notorious gangster Abu Salem who was extradited from Portugal some years back to face trial in India in extortion and murder cases.
Along with him another high profile prisoner is Mustaffa Dossa, brother of absconding 1993 bomb blast accused Mohammed Dossa.

Most of the prisoners in this jail are undertrials. Those convicted after trials are shifted in other jails in the state.

Built in 1926, the Arthur Road jail is Mumbai's largest and oldest prison. It was upgraded in 1994 to become a central prison and has the capacity to accommodate 1050 prisoners although more than 3000 inmates have been lodged currently.

The 26/11 trial has put the residents in the locality into great inconvenience, says Pravin D'souza who stays in the vicinity of the Arthur Road jail. The main road has been made one way as one section has been permanently blocked due to the presence of several "Outside Broadcast Vans" of the media.
The residents have been issued passes and their movements have also been regulated, he said.

"We had moved the Bombay High court which had asked the special Judge M L Tahaliyani, hearing the 26/11 trial case, to conduct a survey and file a report. This was done by the judge but the situation remains the same", D'souza said.
The manager of a restaurant, near the prison, who did not want to disclose his identity, said the business of the eating house had suffered after the 26/11 trial.
"Earlier the relatives of the undertrials came here for refreshments but now because of high security their entry has been restricted," he added.