Two warders guard him round the clock. He is restricted to the hospital ward and officers are visiting him every two hours to find out how he is doing. He has also been isolated from the rest of the inmates. This more or less sums up a day -- every day -- now in the life of Rose Valley chairman Gautam Kundu, who is behind the bars at Presidency jail.
He has been in jail since March 2015, but has never been put under such security.
Kundu is at the centre of a scam that is being investigated by CBI and ED. It has witnessed heightened activity and has shot to the headlines especially after December 30 when Trinamool MP Tapas Pal was arrested and January 3 when the same party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay was taken into custody by CBI.
The quantum of funds involved in the Rose Valley scam is more than Rs 15,000 crore and some estimates put it at Rs 17,000 crore, a figure six times more than the Rs 2,500 crore figure of Saradha scam.
Jail authorities fear that Kundu, who is the sole owner of that chit fund empire, may face attacks by a section of inmates who are pro-Trinamool Congress. The heightened security arrangements were put in place on January 3 when Bandopadhyay was arrested by CBI triggering widespread protests by his party and angry reaction by the chief minister.
Kundu took over the reins of the group after his elder brother Kajal, who, along with his wife and son, were killed in an accident on their way to Guwahati from Agartala in 2003. Kajal Kundu established the company is 1997 after selling insurance products for more than a decade.
“Gautam Kundu is lodged in the jail’s hospital ward. Two warders are keeping a watch over him 24 hours a day. Jail officers visit him every two hours. No one apart from doctors, male nurses and jail officials are allowed to enter the hospital ward,” said a senior jail department official.
Every two hours, a senior jail officer visits him and talks to him in the ward to make sure everything is under control.
“There is a chance that a section of inmates who are outraged by the arrest of the ruling party MPs may attack Kundu. This level of security has not even been provided even to American Center attack mastermind Aftab Ansari and IS operative Muhammed Mussa who are lodged in Alipore central jail,” said an officer.
Kundu is suffering from a severe case of piles, apart from high blood pressure and sugar. He has been in the hospital ward of the jail for a long time.
The jail authorities have decided to appeal to a medical board at SSKM for help. Doctors will be asked to visit the jail to check him instead of sending him to the hospital. Significantly, former minister Madan Mitra, who was in jail for his involvement in the Saradha scam, spent several months at a SSKM cabin.
Jail sources said Kundu expressed surprise after the arrest of the Trinamool Congress MPs. He has also said that the leaders of various political parties were equally close to him. A section of his employees has allegedly usurped substantial amounts of money after an investigation was launched against the chit fund.
The jail authorities have also asked Kundu not to move out of the hospital ward. Now, Kundu spends time staring at the flat screen television set in the hospital, apart from reading newspapers. Sometimes, he prays before a statue of a goddess kept in one corner of the ward.
“He (Kundu) keeps mostly to himself but is watching television a lot after the arrest of the Trinamool Congress MPs. The only time he gets out of the ward is to make calls from the telephone booth inside the jail premises. The two warders follow him wherever he goes,” said an officer of Presidency jail.
In keeping with procedures, Kundu can call three numbers — among them are his lawyer and relatives. Sources said he communicates regularly with them.
He follows a strict diet, prescribed by doctors, which includes chapatis, vegetables, fruits and egg white. Given his love of bright colours, he still wears colouful shirts and track pants in the ward.