A day after Subrata Roy was remanded in police custody in Kukrail, locals were shut out from the popular picnic spot even as the Sahara chief received a steady stream of family, friends and well-wishers with almost no restrictions imposed.
Roy is getting used to life inside his new ‘cell’ — a single suite on the first floor of a forest guesthouse in a scenic area famous for its alligator-breeding centre. The 65-year-old has been allowed food and bedding from home.
Only two policemen were stationed on the floor, in sharp contrast to the bevy of personnel — in uniform and in plain clothes — keeping tabs on outsiders around the guesthouse. The narrow dirt road leading to the spot was teeming with luxury cars belonging to Sahara employees and Roy’s visitors.
The area is currently out-of-bounds for visitors with the police denying permission to locals. Media personnel aren’t being allowed on the premises either.
Roy reached the guesthouse at around 8pm on Friday with a contingent of Sahara officials. A circle officer imposed restrictions on visitors early Saturday but the same were relaxed later in the day.
In spite of the strict security that is keeping commoners away, vehicles carrying Sahara Q-shop mineral water bottles and eatables found their way inside the restricted area easily. The cops present said the consignment was meant for the guesthouse canteen, where food was being cooked for the staff present.
Though the main entrance of the guesthouse was locked, the police logbook indicated the presence of at least 26 vehicles and 40 visitors inside, while the media was banned. When asked, ASP Trans-Gomti Habibul Hasan said entry was restricted only inside the guesthouse but couldn’t explain the lock on the main entrance. Forest officials also feigned ignorance about the ban, saying it was up to the police personnel to handle.
SSP Lucknow Praveen Kumar said the police didn’t restrict the entry of public but admitted to precautionary measures for Roy’s safe custody.
Though Roy’s current address is a luxury by ordinary standards of police custody, it isn’t without precedent. While most people are kept in lock-ups or in a room within the police station complex, senior politicians or high-profile detainees are often put up at guesthouses. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, for example, was kept in the forest department guesthouse in Gorakhpur during his police custody in 1999.
Roy is scheduled to stay here till March 3 and will be taken to Delhi by the police to appear in the Supreme Court on March 4.