The Puzhal Central Jail in Chennai has been at the centre of controversy, after photographs of non-uniformed Muslim convicts, living in the luxury of television sets, mobile phones, branded costumes and mattresses were leaked
Venkatesan T S, Chennai
Islamic terrorists have proved that with vast resources at their disposal they can make prison cell into heaven. It is shocking to see the leaked photographs of the sprawling Puzhal prison, the biggest in Asia; where the inmates lead a lavish life with cosy cots, television sets, costly mobile phones, branded costumes, expensive sports shoes, designer made bedspreads, branded Coolers, computers with Internet facility, and last but not the least the home-made spicy mouth-watering foods including biryani. Even political prisoners like Lalu Prasad Yadav could not have imagined such luxuries inside the prison walls. How was this possible in a high-security prison for Muslim convicts, under-trial? The answer is straightforward. They know how to grease the palms of the greedy jail officials. It is alleged that Rs Five lakh per month to each of 10 Central prisons in the states are being given to officials through well- knit conduit as a quid pro quo.
Leaked photos of prisoners living a luxurious life in Puzhal prison, Tamil Nadu
The moment politicians get convicted for their misdeeds, they would complain of chest pain, hypertension, diabetics and other complications to avoid the jail term. The courts too are magnanimous in granting them bail and hospitalisation. Lalu and others used these tactics successfully. People like Chidambaram and his family with their vast law knowledge can file a petition after petition to avoid being arrested or probed. Once they are freed, they would continue their political activities as if there was nothing wrong with their health.
Jayalalithaa’s confidante and Mannargudi mafia queen, Sasikala who has been lodged in Bengaluru prison, was in the news for wrong reasons. Video clipping showed she was able to come out for shopping in costly civil dress, had luxury items in her cell. A report by then DIG (Prisons) D Roopa made a storm by showing video footage of AIADMK (Amma) leader VK Sasikala inside the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail that showed she was provided special facilities, including an exclusive kitchen to prepare her meals, in violation of prison rules. Following initial hue and cry, the issue was given a silent burial by ordering a probe.
Puzhal prison has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past. A murder had been committed inside the jail. Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption sleuths had trapped a staff member besides registering an FIR against a jailor. Seizure of mobile phones and ganja (marijuana) has been a regular affair here. Use of such
contraband is impossible without help from prison staff.
Time and again it has been written that the Muslim prisoners, who were arrested and convicted of terror-related crimes, bomb blasts, killing Hindutva leaders, are leading a luxurious life in jails. But it fell on deaf ears. Now to prove this charge one more revelation came this time from Chennai Puzhal prison. Before that, a warden at the prison was caught with ganja hidden in his innerwear when he reported for duty. He was smuggling it to give to a Pakistan spy- an NIA suspect – lodged there, for a premium price. He has now been placed under suspension.
Photographs from a seized mobile phone provided proof of the sheer luxury afforded to individual prisoners. A probe revealed that prisoners could purchase all sorts of comforts, food, clothes, cosmetics, phones not free of cost but at a very high price.
Though there have been reports of rampant corruption inside prisons in Tamil Nadu, this is the first time that the media have accessed photographic evidence. Sources said that certain inmates lodged in the high-security block controlled the entire operations inside the jail.
These ‘influential’ inmates could get other prisoners’ items ranging from cost high-end mobile phones to sunglasses to sports shoes and even enjoyable, tasty food. “They procured rice and vegetables inside and not only cooked for themselves but sold it to other inmates who craved homemade food,” a source revealed.
“If prison life is luxurious, people will not have a fear of committing crime” —Pon Radhakrishnan Union Minister
In the set of pictures made available, a prisoner is seen feasting on a huge meal served in casseroles, a far cry from the steel plates that regular prisoners eat from. “It looks like they are happily living in a 5-star hotel dining room. It is not clear how such activities are permitted inside the high-security block inside the prison complex,” questioned a retired police official. Though jail officials claim that cell-phone signal jammers are installed on the premises, sources said they are not in functional mode.
“Even if one or two work, those jammers are not designed to block 4G phone signals. Most inmates lodged there use the latest phones,” sources explained. From the photographs, it is clear that several prisoners talk openly on mobile phones. “They casually pose for photographs, and with phones in their hands,” jail officials at Puzhal declined to speak on the subject.
It would be startling to know scrumptious meals, high-end mobile phones, a comfortable bed, branded clothes, shoes, UPS batteries, shuttle rackets, cooking vessels, electric cookers- facilities available in jail premises. Sources said that the photographs which were leaked to the media might have been taken a month ago. They were reportedly found in mobile phones that were seized from the inmates a week ago.
During the investigation by intelligence agencies, it came to light these Muslim prisonsers have made international calls to other terrorsoutfits including ISI on a regular basis and thereby are compromising the jail security. They could have passed information about the jail design. Now their call records are being scrutinised to know what had transpired during the talks. After the Tuticorin Sterlite protest, which turned violent and the slew of daily protests that in the State for various reasons, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, superstar Rajni Kant had expressed concern that anti-national, secessionist forces have been active. State Government should contain them with iron hands. To this a BJP tweeter Sridhar said if they could convert a prison cell into a suite? Imagine if they are freed what would they do? Where do they come from? The successive governments in the State did not do anything against them. They would make arrests only in cases where Muslims are involved, under- no- other- go- situations only. Otherwise, they would not mind. This Muslim appeasement attitude encouraged them to run a royal life in the state and prison. The government never bothers how much risk the police takes to arrest them. That is the reason today we have a plethora of anti-national, secessionist forces, Christian missionaries and SDPI, PFI in the state waging war against the Centre and its schemes. It has already been alleged that influential convicts conduct murderous attacks on their rivals from within the jail by making telephonic plots.
H Raja, a senior leader of Tamil Nadu BJP, demanded that the entire Prison officials en-mass be dismissed for their role in helping Muslim convicts and others to lead a king like life in prison and measures to be taken to avoid further recurrence of such things. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan also wanted officials responsible for this security lapse to be tried. The State Government spent crores of rupees in installing jammers. What happened to them like CCTVs? Close on the heels of photographs of Puzhal jail inmates enjoying a luxurious lifestyle in their cells went viral, prison officials have sent five inmates from Puzhal jail to other central prison citing administrative and security reasons. Mohammad Rafique (convict number 6801) was sent to the central jail in Coimbatore, Mohammad Ibrahim (convict number 6802) to Salem, Mohammad Rikas (convict number 6477) to Palayamkottai, remand prisoner Mohammad Zahir (convict number 1692) to Vellore and remand prisoner Raffique alias Nooruddin (convict number 1686) to Trichy. On September 15, Tamil Nadu Minister for law, courts and prisons C Ve Shanmugam chaired a high-level meeting with prison department officials. He ordered prison officials to take severe action against corrupt officers and errant prisoners. “We have ordered a departmental inquiry to identify the prison officials responsible for this incident and will take action against them,” said a senior police officer.
Like closing the stable door when the horse has bolted, police conducted raids on September 16 in other prisons to find out any Puzhal like violation.
Even before the Governor decides on the release of 7 Rajiv Gandhi killers, who have been serving a life sentence, Muslim outfits started demanding Muslims arrested and lodged in TN prisons for various crimes be released on the same ground. The TN Cabinet adopted on September 9 to recommend the release of all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to Governor Banwarilal Purohit under Article 161 of the Constitution. All the seven convicts have served over 27 years in prison and have been demanding early release. Barring BJP, Congress, other political parties support their demand for an initial acquittal by saying they are innocents and have been falsely implicated.