“The jail officials forcefully made us sign on circulars that said we do not face any kind of problem inside the prison and have never given bribes to the prison staff for anything,” said undertrial number 395 of a prison in Maharashtra, who did not wish to be named.
According to the former inmate, who recently came out of a Maharashtra prison on bail, the circle officers inside the jail made undertrials sign circulars forcefully after HT published a report on June 7 on the poor condition of medical facilities inside the jail and the corruption involving open bribery in prison.
“They called four undertrials from my circle and directly told us to sign on the circular [a copy of which is with HT]. We were not asked if we wanted to say anything or not. When senior officials from the prison department visited, we were asked if we face any problems. One of us had to tell them everything is fine inside,” said the former undertrial.
When asked why they did they not reveal everything when they had a chance to do so in front of the senior officials, he said, “Agar hum tab kuch bolte toh hume jine nahi dete andar jail wale (if we would have said something at that time then the jail officials would not have let us survive there).”
According to him, another 1,000 undertrials were made to sign circulars out of fear when HT published another story on the prevalent corruption inside Arthur Road Jail. A probe was ordered on the claims made by a former prison inmate. “We were scared, we did not have any other choice, the prison staff would have made our lives hell inside,” he said.
He added the level of corruption is at such a level in the jail that he recently saw one of the senior jail officials welcoming an accused involved in a high-level fraud. “Fraudsters are always their first priority because officials know they have made enough money outside before getting arrested,” he said.
Despite numerous calls and messages, additional director general (Prisons) Meeran Borwankar was not available for comments.