Innocuous looking spoons are sharpened into deadly killing tools. Aluminum plates are cut and shaped into daggers. These are a part of the reality inside the Arthur Road Prisons, temporary home to some of India’s most notorious criminals.
The murderous attack on underworld kingpin Abu Salem by fellow inmate and key Dawood Ibrahim aide Mustafa “Majnoo” Dossa using a spoon that had been shaped and sharpened into a razor, was a reminder of the several such incidents in the past when crockery or even stones were used to make fatal attacks by jail inmates.
Following the murder of John D’souza, a robber lodged in the Arthur Road jail, a proposal was sent to the jail administration to replace the metal utensils with disposable ones so as to avoid such incidents. However, the proposal, as admitted by senior home department officials, is still lying in the cold storage.
“The matter is still under consideration. However, no final decision has been taken as yet,” said Medha Gadgil, principal secretary, appeals and security. Asked what immediate steps had been taken following the Salem-Dossa episode, Gadgil said, “We have taken adequate measures. Those can not be discussed in public.”
The Home Department had also suggested periodic checks of inmates cell, in order to ensure that no outside articles (including deodorants and eatable containers) were smuggled into the prison. Arthur Road prisons has a history of outside articles being smuggled, including drugs, often done by jail guards and those who supply food as per the court’s orders.
Even the superintendent of Arthur Road jail, Rajendra Dhamale admitted that the metal vases needed to be replaced with paper or plastic disposable ones. “These are criminals. They can mould any metal object into a potential weapon.”
Crime branch to probe Salem attack
The Mumbai police crime branch has taken over the investigation into the assault on incarcerated gangster Abu Salem by Mohammed Mustafa Dossa, a fellow Arthur Road jail inmate and key aide of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim.
Dossa, an accused in the 1993 serial-blasts case, allegedly attacked Salem with a steel spoon after breakfast in the jail mess on Saturday, inflicting a deep wound on the latter’s face. The spoon had been sharpened as a weapon especially for the attack that is being thought to have been a premeditated act.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Himanshu Roy told HT on Sunday that the crime branch will investigate whether the attack was the outcome of personal enmity (between the two) or if there was a “deeper ramification”. “We will go into the roots of the incident,” Roy said.
He said the crime branch was given the investigation as the assault included two underworld figures. They will make an application before the special court, trying the serial blast case, seeking Mustafa’s custody. Salem, who has reportedly been shifted to Taloja jail , will also be questioned.