The state government spent Rs 2.56 crore, meant for constructing a new building at Arthur Road jail and renovating the existing one, to keep 26/11 terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab safe.
Home minister RR Patil told the state Legislative Council on Friday that the money was diverted towards constructing a special cell for Kasab at Arthur Road jail.
Patil was responding to a question raised by Shiv Sena legislators, Ramdas Kadam, Kiran Pawaskar and Dr Deepak Sawant.
Legislators asked Patil why there was delay in renovation and construction of a new building in the prison where several undertrials, some involved in serious crimes such as bomb blasts, were lodged. The prison that has more inmates than its capacity was to be renovated with the construction of a two-storeyed building that could house more inmates with facilities.
Patil informed the House that a sum of Rs 2.56 crore was sanctioned for the new building. "We felt that the security of the jail was more important than constructing a new building and hence the amount was spent for constructing a special cell for Kasab," he said.
Intelligence reports had said Kasab was under threat from terrorist organizations and could be attacked in jail.
The government decided to build a special bomb and bulletproof cell within the jail premises. Patil said the Pakistani terrorist was an "international criminal".
"He must live because he is a vital clue to nail Pakistan's designs against our country," Patil said.
Members of the Assembly also asked the home minister about the skeletal remains recently found inside the jail.
"A part of human skull was found there. It must be 90 years old," Patil said.
"We have sent it to the forensic laboratory for tests to ascertain whether it is that of a male or female."
Patil also touched upon the issue of bogus SIM cards and said the home department would act against bogus SIM card distributors and has issued guidelines to service providers.
Replying to a question raised by Congress member, Prakash Binsale, Patil said the department was aware that terrorists used unidentified bogus SIM cards.
"The Mumbai police have registered 6,323 cases in this connection and taken action against SIM card holders in 82 cases," Patil said.
Patil said the state has sought permission from the Union government to act against mobile service providers who issue bogus SIM cards.
The police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad have already had a meeting with service providers while the government has given the service providers strict instructions to follow the guidelines of the department of telecommunications while issuing new SIM cards, Patil said.