Arthur Road prison may not be the safest place for the five men accused of gang-raping a photojournalist in Shakti Mill on August 22, admit officials.
Jail authorities said they were worried of a repeat of the Delhi gang-rape incident, where an accused was beaten up by inmates at Tihar jail, and another one had committed suicide in the jail premises.
Officials at the Arthur Road jail, where the five are likely to be kept once their police custody ends, said it won’t be possible for them to keep the accused separate from the other inmates.
“In the past two days, nearly 400 drug addicts have been brought to Arthur Road jail. We now have 3,000 inmates in our prison, which has a capacity of only 800,” said a senior jail official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media. “We do not have the space to keep these five prisoners separately. Even the high security cell [where terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab] was kept is occupied.”
However, considering the brutality of the crime, the official did not rule out the possibility of the accused being attacked by other inmates.
Currently the high security cell houses high-profile inmates such as Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, an accused in the 26/11 terror attacks, gangster Santosh Shetty, and Himayat Baig, arrested in the German bakery blast.
Sources said Santosh Mane, a Pune bus driver who went on a rampage killing nine people and injuring nearly 30 others last year, is also to be taken to there.
The senior official said they would have to inform the authority concerned about the staff shortage and space crunch if the five were sent to the Arthur Road on Friday. “They may still end up being sent here as there are not as many options available.”
Taloja jail, Thane Central prison and Aadharwadi prison at Kalyan are some of the other prisons where the accused could be transferred.