New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) One of the largest and highly secured prisons in South Asia, the Tihar Jail in Delhi has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. For years, criminals and gangs have operated from inside the secured walls, giving rise to questions on the involvement of jail officials and the security apparatus of the prison that houses some of the most dreaded criminals of India.
Tihar houses many gangsters. Sources have said that high-profile criminals like Lawrence Bishnoi and Neeraj Bawana have also set up their small gangs within the prison and they operate through other inmates who are not under the radar of the jail officials.
“The gangsters have a huge network and small petty criminals who are lodged in the jail would like to associate with them for protection both within and outside the jail. Such gangsters give them protection and, in turn, the petty ones carry out their job,” the sources claimed.
Famed Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala was gunned down on May 29 this year close to his native village near Mansa in Punjab. Ten days after the murder, Bishnoi’s involvement in the crime was openly announced by the police.
On June 8, the special cell made the startling revelation that “Lawrence Bishnoi was the mastermind behind the singer’s killing”.
But at the time of the murder, Bishnoi was lodged in Tihar. The question arises how can an inmate who is lodged in South Asia’s largest prison complex, having a stringent security apparatus, carry out such meticulous planning from inside the prison?
During the media briefing on June 8, Special Commissioner (special cell) H.S. Dhaliwal said that it was a brazen and well-planned murder having organised dimensions.
Was Bishnoi getting any outside support inside the prison? Was he in contact with his gang members who are still out? And if yes, then how?
These questions which remain unanswered, give rise to the suspicion that gangs can still operate freely even from behind bars.
In March this year, Shekhar Rana alias Sannata (29), an associate of jailed gangster Sunil, a.k.a Tillu Tajpuriya, was shot dead inside a car in Rohini. Police probe has revealed that the conspiracy to murder Rana was hatched from inside Tihar allegedly by one Rohit Moi, an old associate of slain gangster Jitendra Gogi.
With Tihar overcrowding with the inmates, especially gang leaders and their members, fights for dominance have also become frequent, according to the sources.
On September 10, 2021, an inmate were injured during a clash. An undertrial prisoner, Sumit Dutt, lodged in ward number 2 of central jail 3, was assaulted with sharp weapons by two other inmates identified as Brijesh and Bilauta.
According to police, the reason behind the clash was dominance inside the jail.
However, this was not the first time that such an incident was reported from Tihar.
In August 2021, a 29-year-old gangster, Ankit Gujjar, was killed inside his cell. A deputy superintendent of jail number 3 was booked for his murder.
However, an official said that the gang leaders and members are transferred to other jails, Rohini or Mandoli jails, to avoid any untoward incidents.
But Tihar has had to face widespread humiliation in the past one year.
Recently, on November 17, at least 28 prison officials posted in jail number 7 were transferred for allegedly giving favours to prisoners. Among those transferred were two deputy superintendents, three assistant superintendents, seven head warders and 16 warders.
These transfers came after the suspension of Ajit Kumar, the superintendent of jail number 7, for allegedly circumventing rules to give special facilities to jailed AAP leader Satyendar Jain.
In 2021, over 40 jail officials were booked by various law enforcement agencies for extending benefits to prisoners.
Since then, three new mobile towers, or jammers, were installed inside the jail premises in an effort to prevent the use of electronic gadgets by the inmates.
Apart from these towers, over 7,000 CCTV cameras were installed in all the jails to keep a close eye on the inmates.
But despite all the stringent measures in place, Lawrence Bishnoi was able to orchestrate the killing of Moosewala from inside the prison, while gangs are still fighting for dominance and running a nexus. These instances leave only question in mind… till when will these activities go on?