Notorious for holding ‘durbars’ in Bihar prisons where he had been lodged, RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin on Sunday found himself locked alone in a cell in a high-security ward of Tihar Jail.
Shahabuddin, who was brought to Delhi after a Supreme Court order, will have no access to other prisoners in Tihar’s sub-jail number two that also houses gangster Chhota Rajan and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, said a senior jail officer. Sushil Sharma, who is serving a life sentence in the Tandoor murder case, too was housed at the same sub-jail. Sharma at present is out on parole.
“The prisoner will not mingle with other inmates. Like other prisoners lodged in the high-security ward, Shahabuddin will have a small courtyard connected to his cell where he can take walks during fixed hours,” said the officer.
The policeman added that a bathroom was attached to the cell itself and Shahabuddin will not have to leave the cell for meals either. He will be watched on CCTVs and like other occupants of the high-security ward, will be guarded by over a dozen “hand-picked” personnel from the Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP), apart from a few jail staffers.
Most of the men chosen for Shahabuddin’s security are not fluent in Hindi and it is expected that a language barrier will deter any attempts by the don to influence or threaten them.
Having arrived in Delhi in the sleeper compartment of a train on Sunday morning, Shahabuddin was taken to Tihar around 8.30am and was examined by jail doctors.
“He has made no special demands. He will be provided the same food and facilities that other prisoners receive. He can spend a maximum of Rs 6,000 a month in form of coupons for buying snacks and basic necessities,” said another officer.
Tihar prisoners generally sleep on mattresses spread on the floor. “We make exceptions in cases where the doctors have prescribed cots or the inmates are aged. Sometimes prisoners also make individual requests for cots, but no such demand has been made by Shahabuddin,” added the officer.
Sudhir Yadav, director general (Delhi prisons), said the Supreme Court’s directions in connection with Shahabuddin will be followed strictly.
“He will have no problems in attending court proceedings in the cases pending against him as we have video-conferencing facilities in every jail,” said Yadav, adding Shahabuddin will not be accorded any special privileges.
The only advantage for Shahabuddin on shifting to Tihar, jail sources said, would be easy access to some of his family members, including his son, who live in Delhi-NCR. “He can meet his family twice a week and make two phone calls of five minutes each every week,” said an official.