Hoping to develop a strong intelligence gathering system inside its many jails, the state’s prisons department has asked the home department to sanction a secret service fund to pay informers.
Sources in the prisons department said the need for this came up after the many incidents of firing, murder, as well as rackets being run from inside prisons using illegal mobile phones. In a majority of these cases, the Mumbai underworld is involved, the police said. The request from the prisons department is currently pending before the state government for approval, sources said.
In the late 90s, when the underworld was operating at its peak, the Mumbai police had created a secret service fund that was used to pay informers. This system continues even today through which the Mumbai police get a lot of valuable information leading to encounters, arrests, weapons seizures along with other preventive action against the underworld.
At present, the Maharashtra prison department has nine central prisons, 27 district prisons, 10 open prisons, one open colony and 172 sub-jails. There are two separate prisons for women at Pune and Mumbai. Over the years, prisons in the state have been the scenes of serious crimes, including the 2013 attack on gangster Abu Salem in which he was shot inside Taloja jail, while in 2012 – alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Quateel Siddique – was murdered inside Yerawada jail. Several other incidents of illegal use of mobile phones have been reported from Arthur Road jail.
Soon after, the prison department started sending its people from the state training centre at Yerawada jail, to the Maharashtra Intelligence academy for a week to sharpen their skills in intelligence gathering. Also, several steps were taken to stop the use of mobile phones, including the fitting of mobile jammers inside jail premises.
Officials of the prison department said because a majority of the cases are related to organised rackets of Mumbai’s underworld, the use of human intelligence was the best way to break the backs of these rackets by getting quality information.
A senior prison department official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed a request had been made to the state for the secret service fund.