Ingenious methods adopted by undertrials to smuggle phones, cash and other objects into their jail premises has mystified authorities at Arthur Road jail. In some cases, these undertrials are cronies of some of the country’s most notorious underworld elements and terror suspects, and police officers are worried that these phones and SIM cards could be used by them to communicate with the outside world, or influence and obstruct the judicial process.
Each time the state and prison authorities add new measures of security to prevent such rampant smuggling, undertrials manage to subvert them by devising even newer methods of smuggling. In course of a search conducted inside the Arthur Road jail premises in October, mobile phones were seized from some undertrials.
While official records say that four mobile phones were recovered in the raid, an application filed in sessions court by some accused in the 1993 bomb blast case, alleges that as many as 42 mobile phones were found during the search.
The surprise check was carried out in yards three and four of the high security Anda cell of Arthur Road jail. Police officers say they found four Samsung mobiles and a SIM card. Two of the phones were concealed in thick files found in barracks six and seven of yard four, where Afroz Khan, Shahid Khan, Nadim Akhtar Shaikh, Mohammed Jubair Syed Anwar, Mohammed Abdul Ajim Jamil Shaikh and Mohammed Sharif Shabbir Ahmed were lodged.
All of them are undertrials, having been accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case, in which 30 kg of RDX, 10 AK-47 assault rifles and 3,200 bullets were intercepted while being smuggled to Aurangabad on May 8, 2006.
The NM Joshi Marg police station, which registered a case against the six undertrials, found in course of investigations that they had smuggled the mobile phones to their respective barracks using the files used to hold their legal documents pertaining to their case, which they are allowed to keep inside the prison premises.
Using an ingenious method, the undertrials had dug out small cavities inside the covers of the thick files, such that the phones would fit snugly in them, said police officers. What has worried the prison and security establishment is the fact that the phones were recovered from the barracks of five suspected terrorists accused in the sensational 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case.
“The inmates carried mobiles phone into the jail by concealing them in their files, which generally don’t get screened when they are brought back to jail from court. We have seized two files as evidence,” said an assistant inspector of the NM Joshi Marg police, requesting anonymity.
Other, even more disturbing methods have been reported. According to police sources, some undertrials insert their mobile phones in their anus to smuggle them in. “When we found out about this method of smuggling phones and SIM cards inside jail, we started taking note of their gait. If we suspect anyone, we make them do sit-ups, to see if they are hiding anything,” said a senior jail official.
Taking note of the increasing number of mobiles phones being found inside jails, Meeran Borwankar, additional director general of police (prison), has sought call data records (CDRs) of the numbers of all phones smuggled into all prisons in the state.
In the order, Borwankar cited a case in which CDR in a case was not obtained, and sufficient evidence could not be collected in the probe against the inmate, who had used the phone for extortion.