The only thing special for Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail was his security. The fortified complex where he was held was secluded from barracks crowded by lesser criminals.
There were no biryani feasts in the jail for the short and stocky Pakistani. He added no extra girth to the 60 kg he weighed on arrival post the 26/11 mayhem.
“Non-vegetarian meals aren’t served as a rule in any prison in Maharashtra,” said a top official. “We sometimes provide eggs on medical advice.”
A posse of 90-odd Indo-Tibetan Border Policemen (ITBP) kept round-the-clock vigil in and outside the complex where Kasab was incarcerated on the first floor. An iron staircase led to his cramped abode in the rear side of which was his bathing space. Two ITBP men sat on guard in the corridor leading to his cell.
A quiet man, Kasab ate frugally; the aluminium plate in which he was served food was often full of leftovers. “At times, he was allowed to walk in the roofed corridor,” said a jail warden.
The trial of the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast cases was held in the same building that has a room adjacent to a foyer on the first floor.
It was retrofitted with iron gates, grills and equipment for video-conferencing before Kasab’s arrival.
The trial court heard the 26/11 case in the complex and later, when the matter reached the high court, the Pak-trained terrorist would depose before it through video-conferencing.
Jail authorities had halted construction of high-rise buildings overlooking the complex for security reasons and crores were spent on keeping Kasab there for four years.
The ITBP men who took Kasab on his final journey to Pune were drawn from the contingent that guarded him in Mumbai. When bundled into a bullet-proof vehicle on Monday, he wore a blue-striped white uniform prescribed for convicts and under-trials.