With criminals lodged in the high-security Arthur Road Jail running organised crime syndicates from inside the jail with impunity, prison authorities on Saturday installed a state-of-the-art mobile phone jamming system as part of its long-overdue security upgrade.
The new jamming system will make it practically impossible for its high profile inmates to "communicate" with their associates using cell phones.
"The new system will be in place from Saturday and greatly improve the vigilance and security inside the jail," Maharashtra Deputy Inspector General (DIG) prisons DP Yadav said.
"With this, Arthur Road prison becomes the first jail in the country to have a mobile jammer system," he claimed.
Jail authorities admit that so far inmates could easily smuggle in cell phones into the high-security prison and carry on their criminal operations from inside their prison cells.
The use of mobile phones first came to light after the Mumbai Police Crime Branch "intercepted" conversations in 2005 between mobster Chhota Rajan, who is currently reported to be in Bangkok, and his aides lodged in the jail.
Transcripts of the taped conversation between the mobster and his jailed aide DK Rao were submitted to the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court as evidence earlier last year. The court had charged Raja aides Rao, Shrikant Sonawane and Hitesh Trivedi of running an "organised crime syndicate" from inside the jail.
"The new system is being installed by a Delhi-based firm and be monitored by a special committee comprising representatives of the Mumbai Police wireless department and the state department of technology," said Yadav.
"In February last year we had installed experimental jammers to jam wireless signals within the high-security anda cell (a special cell where high profile inmates are housed). But since the company that installed the system could not guarantee 100 per cent efficiency, we did not continue with it," he said.
The DIG said he was confident the newly installed jamming system will deliver.
"Unlike the experimental project, the new system will cover the entire prison, including the barracks and the guard rooms," Yadav said.