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From boardrooms to jail cell

Lodged in Tihar jail, five high-flying telecom honchos involved in the 2G spectrum scandal share cells, bathroom and have terrorists for company. Abhishek Sharan reports. Prison manual

delhi Updated: Apr 22, 2011 11:07 IST
Abhishek Sharan

It is 6am Thursday. Head warder of Ward 4 of Tihar's sub-jail 3 walks into a 15ft by 10ft cell and starts calling out for three inmates in a bored but loud voice.

Unitech's managing director Sanjay Chandra (38), in a creased white shirt and black trousers, wakes up and steps out gingerly. Co-inmate Vinod Goenka (50), director of Swan Telecom, follows.

Both stand in the queue for the warder to complete the headcount, which he would repeat at 7pm. Soon breakfast is served - 45 ml of tea in a plastic cup with two slices of bread.

For Chandra and Goenka, it's beginning of a day to be spent in enclosed walls, rule-bound and under the gaze of guards.

While Chandra's father Ramesh Chandra owns $1 billion (Rs 4,430 crore) real estate group Unitech Goenka is worth $1.1 billion (Rs 4,813 crore).

A special court hearing the 2G spectrum scandal had on Wednesday sent the two and Reliance ADAG's Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara, and Hari Nair to judicial custody. Doshi, Pipara and Nair are lodged in the neighbouring cell.

On Thursday, the Delhi high court adjourned to April 26 the hearing of the bail plea of the five.

In the cell, jail officials brief Chandra and Goenka about their diet and facilities.

The duo and Reliance ADAG officials were brought to Tihar on Wednesday at around 4pm.

After a medical check, they were taken to their cells.

Each has a television set a ceiling fan and a common bathroom. Three to five inmates are house in a cell.

"Some of these five inmates had requested to be lodged with co-accused Shahid Balwa, which was denied," said a jail source.

Balwa and former telecom minister A Raja, also an accused in the case, are lodged in sub-jail 1.

Parliament attack case convict Mohammed Afzal Guru and Khalistani terrorist DS Bhullar, both on death row, are in jail 3. So are former Commonwealth Games corruption scam accused Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma.