Sanjay Dutt was shifted from Arthur Road Jail to Yerawada Central Prison in Pune on Friday evening. This followed officials objecting to him being lodged at Arthur Road on the grounds that the prison was meant for undertrials and that Dutt ceased to be one after he was sentenced in the 1993 blasts case. They also feared that there was a threat to his life there.
Their five-point submission to the special court on Thursday stated, “The Arthur Road prison is not meant for convicts, only undertrials. Dutt, on being sentenced, ceased to be an undertrial. Also, a convict has to be employed in some way in the jail, but there is no provision for this at Arthur Road.” The 95 other convicts in the case were moved soon after their sentencing. Moreover, it’s the discretion of state jail officials on where to keep the convict.
<b1>Earlier, the actor had asked the court not to shift him out of Mumbai, but his lawyer Farhana Shah withdrew the application, saying: “If there is no such provision, then we cannot press for the plea. We hoped that Dutt would stay here so he could meet his family and we could consult him on legal matters. However, that did not happen.” Dutt was on July 31 sentenced to six years’ rigorous imprisonment.
He reached Yerawada at 10.30 pm. Earlier, officials reviewed security that was already on alert after 12 convicts sentenced to death in the 1993 blasts case were sent there.
Inspector General (Prisons) Satish Mathur told HT: “Dutt will be treated like any other convict.” It will be a cramped existence for the actor, with the jail already housing 1,000 prisoners more than its capacity of 2,500.
Jail Superintendent Rajendra Dhamande said Dutt would get the same food as others — upma or poha for breakfast; rotis, vegetables, dal and rice for the other meals. “If he wants non-vegetarian food, he will have to buy it from the jail canteen,” said Dhamane.
He may be put to work, most probably in the kitchen, where those not used to manual labour are posted, said George Vettikunnal, research officer, inspectorate (prisons). The other tasks assigned to prisoners are cleaning, washing, carpentry and gardening.
Deputy Inspector General Ravindra Kedari said: “Whether Dutt is put to work or he gets an exemption depends upon the court order. It is also up to the superintendent whether to keep him in the general barracks or separately.”
The Yerawada prison, built in 1860 on the outskirts of Pune, is spread over 500 acres and has 246 cells, 79 barracks, 21 work-sets and six yards. It houses convicts sentenced for a range of crimes, from hardcore criminals to pickpockets.
The jail has an impressive library of 9,000 books on various subjects. Incidentally, the prison was used to incarcerate leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during the freedom struggle.