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Jail fights on who’s the boss

One of the biggest reasons for such power-fights is overcrowding, especially in Arthur Road Jail, which has a capacity of 804 inmates but houses over 2,400

mumbai Updated: Jun 01, 2016 11:52 IST
Sagar Rajput
In 2010, gangsters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa had a violent turf war when they were lodged in the Arthur Road Jail
In 2010, gangsters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa had a violent turf war when they were lodged in the Arthur Road Jail(HT)

Fight for space and supremacy in and outside jails is leading to severe violence in prisons.

In most occasions, the jails are hotbeds of recruiting members for the Mumbai underworld. The gangsters sitting inside the jails call the shots on who will work for whom and on what “projects”.

One of the biggest reasons for such power-fights is overcrowding, especially in Arthur Road Jail, which has a capacity of 804 inmates but houses over 2,400.

The lobby between the ringmaster sitting outside the jail and his group of men inside the prison is so powerful that sometimes inmates bump off men whom the ringmaster wants to be “taught a lesson”.

One such instance is the murder of OP Singh inside Nashik jail in 2002 after he fell out with Chhota Rajan. Also in 2010, gangsters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa had a violent turf war when they were lodged in the Arthur Road Jail. In July 2010, Dossa had attacked Salem with a knife-like weapon fashioned from a spoon, following which Salem was shifted to Taloja Central Jail, while Dossa is still in the Arthur Road Jail.

On June 27, 2013, Salem was again attacked by Devendra Jagtap aka JD, who was then shifted to Kalyan jail from Taloja. Considering the possible threat to the life of the 1993 bomb blast accused and extradited gangster Abu Salem, the state jail authorities decided to shift him. The decision was taken in view of Salem’s security in Taloja. The top brass of the jail are of the opinion that after the attack it would not be prudent to keep both Salem and JD in the same jail.

The May 30 incident where two rival groups clashed in the high-security Arthur Road Jail in which five people were injured, was more of “getting respect”, according to sources in the police, who are probing into the incident.

In 2012, after the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai was inaugurated, the government decongested some of the overcrowded jails. Around 500 inmates from Thane, Kalyan and Arthur Road jails were moved to the new prison.

Also, hardcore criminals such as underworld don Arun Gawli, Chhota Rajan’s right-hand man DK Rao and Malegaon blast accused Shrikant Purohit were shifted to Taloja. Special arrangements have been made to ensure all these gangsters do not face each other.

“We try to lodge them in separate jails but as most of them have to come to courts in Mumbai, keeping them far is not possible. We try and lodge them in separate barracks but sometimes they meet when they are let out and violence is round the corner. We have issued instructions to jail guards to keep a watch on them every time they come out,” an official with the prison department said.

The prison department is trying for a new land in Mankhurd for a new jail but it would take a few more years before it comes up in the city.