While Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail houses more than three times the number of inmates it has space for, a proposal to set up a new jail at Mandala village near Mankhurd remains in limbo as it awaits the approval of the state government. The plan for a second jail was set in motion in 2014. Initially, the prisons department had a hard time finding a suitable location. After much effort, a plot at Mankhurd was chosen but according to additional director general of prisons BK Upadhyay the proposal is still awaiting clearance from the state government.
Sources said the site at Mankhurd was selected after considering several security-related aspects such as high-security installations or high-rises in the vicinity. High rises around Arthur Road jail, incidentally, continue to pose a security concern.
The new jail would ease the pressure on the overcrowded Arthur Road jail and also reduce the burden on the police, who have to ferry under-trials to city courts not just from Arthur Road jail but also those in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan, a source said.
Thane and Taloja jails, the source added, posed an additional problem because were especially lawless. In June 2013, gangster Abu Salem was shot at in Taloja jail. It was later found that the shooter, Devendra Jagtap, had accepted a contract to kill him from gangster Chhota Shakeel, and the two had spoken on a mobile phone that had been smuggled into the jail.
Arthur Road jail, however, hasn’t been free of such problems. In 2010, Salem and 1993 blasts accused Mustafa Dossa clashed there, after which Salem was shifted to Taloja jail. In April 2014, Uday Pathak, the main accused in the 2011 Kurar quadruple murders, was found to be running a gang using a mobile phone he had smuggled into Arthur Road jail.