Govt Attempts To End War In Prisons Fail
The brazen attack on Abu Salem on Thursday has yet again turned the spotlight on the continuing wars being fought by the underworld in the state’s prisons from outside. To tackle the problem, the state prison authorities have repeatedly moved gangsters from jail to jail, but the measure has yielded little result.
Prisons, say former inmates, are key recruitment grounds for organized crime syndicates, who are willing to pay hefty amounts to new inductees. The Chhota Shakeel gang, which is considered the most powerful in state prisons, is now enlisting from all sections of criminals, recruiting even robbers and petty offenders. To no surprise then, there have lately been many stabbing and shooting incidents involving the underworld in jails.
Sources said the attempt on Salem’s life may have been a tactic of the Shakeel gang to establish its monopoly in Maharashtra’s prisons. “Dawood gang members have always believed that Salem is working against their interests in prisons. They believe that Salem tips off the police about their activities. The same claim was also made when Dgang member Mustafa Dossa assaulted Salem three years ago in Arthur Road jail,” said a police source.
Given the increasing underworld activity in jails, security agencies fear the state’s prisons are becoming hotbeds from where crime is plotted. A few years ago, a D-gang member deported from the UAE was arrested for trying to extort Rs 10 crore from a stockbroker. The broker was an accused in a Rs 50-crore fraud being investigated by the economic offence wing. “Soon after a rich man who is alleged to have committed a fraud enters jail, info about his offence reaches the seniors. The seniors then either demand money or ask him to work for them,” said a source.
In August 2005, Chhota Rajan aides Vicky Malhotra, Fareed Tanasha and two others quarrelled with D-gang members Saleem Shaikh and Ehtesham in jail. The two sides pelted bricks at each other. While no gangster was hurt, a cop sustained severe head injuries.
Times View: Clean up the prison system
The bullet may have hit Abu Salem but it has blown the cover off what actually happens inside the state’s prisons. This incident shows that money and connections can get anything done – and that includes smuggling in of firearms – in our prisons. The government needs to sanitise the system. An intelligent transfer policy, where prison staff do not have the chance to get too friendly with inmates, can help.