Lodged in tightly-guarded cells and virtually ostracised by such high profile fellow jailmates as American Center attack mastermind Aftab Ansari, gangster Gopal Tiwari and Maoist leader Telugu Dipak at the high security Alipore Central Jail, the convicts of the Kamduni gang rape and murder case broke down after their fates were sealed following the landmark judgment by a city court on Thursday.
Three of the six convicts, who were awarded death sentences in the Kamduni case, are housed in the cell block that once housed Dhananjay Chatterjee, the last inmate in Bengal to be hanged in connection with the rape and murder of city girl Hetal Parekh.
Announcing the quantum of punishment for the accused in the case on Saturday, the additional district and sessions judge sentenced Ansar Ali Mollah, Saiful Ali and Amin Ali to death, while awarding life imprisonment to Bhola Naskar, Imanul Islam and Aminur Islam.
“After being brought here on Friday evening, they broke down and cried inconsolably. All fellow inmates, including some high profile neighbours, have been keeping aloof and haven’t spoken a word to them. All the six convicts have been lodged in tightly-guarded cells, as we fear for their security. While they risk being attacked by fellow inmates, they could also hurt themselves,” a senior officer of the state jail department told HT.
On death row, Ansar, Saiful and Amin have been lodged in separate rooms at cell block number 3. Dhananjay spent his last days in this cell block before being hanged on August 14, 2004. The three lifers have been housed in separate cells at cell block number 4. Sepoys are posted outside each room in the cell block and they are under surveillance 24x7.
They have been handed sets of white kurta-pyjama to wear during their stay behind bars.
Cell block number 2, which is situated right next to the one where they have been lodged, stands testimony to a slice of history, as some champions of the nation’s freedom struggle, including Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, had been incarcerated there.
Sources said the convicts have been shunned by fellow inmates from the time they were brought to the correctional. “Probably, it is the sheer gruesome nature of the rape and murder that caused fellow inmates to despise them and keep away. We fear attacks on them and have hence kept them under constant vigil. Not a single inmate has spoken to them since they were brought here,” an officer of Alipore Central Jail said.
The convicts, too, have largely kept to themselves and have not stepped out of their cells even once. The correctional is currently home to about 1,600 inmates.
While the Kamduni convicts have high profile company, with the likes of Ansari, Tiwari and Dipak, too, lodged in neighbouring chambers at cell block 1, not one has cared to visit them.
With fellow inmates literally turning blind to them, only the sepoys and jail officers visit the convicts occasionally to enquire if they cared for some food or water.
“They broke down twice in front of me. They’re visibly shattered. They underwent a medical check-up since their arrival here,” a jail official said.