Meanwhile, a scandal has broken out over the “five-star” facilities being provided to select inmates inside the high-security Arthur Road central prison here.
Abu Salem himself had a “five-star” bathroom and his cell had marble flooring, posh bed, utensils, tiffins and posters of scantily-clad models. The gangster ate home-cooked food in the jail and had enough stock of fresh fruits, Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe, revealed in the state Assembly.
Same was true about Dossa, whose cell was provided with bed and enough supply of fruits. For other inmates, the jail is like a “guest-house” if the criminal has connections with the underworld gangs.
Abu Salem, with bandages on his hands, cheek and neck, was shifted out of the prison on Saturday after he was assaulted by rival gangster Mohammed Dossa. But it is only now that the details of the “VIP” treatment he got inside are emerging. While Salem was taken to Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai, Dossa was shifted to Thane central prison.
Bagwe told the House that there were shocking lapses in the jail. Salem got home-cooked food in violation of court orders and had a five-star bathroom in jail.
Home minister R R Patil announced that an all-party delegation will visit the prison after the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature to inspect the security scenario.
Patil said all prisoners are entitled to transistors, dumb-bells, one-litre thermos flasks, nail-cutters, waist-belts, crockery plates and mineral water (paid for by the prisoner) — the privileges allowed by various courts over the years. Undertrials are allowed to have food from home with the court approval.
“A special TADA court order allows prisoners to take numerous items with them to the cell. We will move court so that all these benefits are scrapped,” he said.
About Salem and Dossa, Patil said: “We are spending more money on them (Salem and Dossa) than on the beneficiaries of the Employment Guarantee Scheme. We have to think even about what type of soap they should be provided.”
Arthur Road jail houses 2,100 prisoners though its capacity is 804, and employs 107 people though its requirement is 265. “They are on duty for up to 15 hours a day. In such circumstances it becomes difficult to inspect who has what,” Patil said.