Prison officers suspect Mohammad Shahabuddin may have been infected with the virus through an asymptomatic jail officer.(PTI)
Prison officers suspect Mohammad Shahabuddin may have been infected with the virus through an asymptomatic jail officer.(PTI)

Gangster-politician Shahabuddin shifted from Tihar jail, dies in Delhi hospital of Covid-19

At Tihar prison, Shahabuddin was only one of the three prisoners who did not share space with other prisoners and are lodged in the most secure part of the jail.
By Prawesh Lama, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 02, 2021 03:49 AM IST

Gangster-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin who tested positive for Covid-19 nearly 10 days ago died in a Delhi hospital on Saturday, according to officials at Tihar prison where the former Rashtriya Janata Dal lawmaker had spent the last four years on orders of the Supreme Court.

Tihar prison officials had shifted 53-year-old Shahabuddin to Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital on April 21 after his condition deteriorated. The four-time parliamentarian from Bihar’s Siwan tested positive for the disease on April 20.

This is the fifth death in five days of a Tihar prisoner due to the disease that has overwhelmed the health system in many parts of the country including national capital Delhi.

Shahabuddin was brought to Tihar prison in February 2017 on the Supreme Court’s order on petitions by Siwan-based businessman Chandrakeshwar Prasad, whose three sons were killed in two incidents. Two of them were drenched in acid before they were killed. Asha Ranjan, the wife of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan who was murdered in Siwan, also pleaded that they would never get a fair trial as long as Shahabuddin was in a Bihar jail.

In 2017 when the Supreme Court heard the case, he had 45 criminal cases against him.

At Tihar prison, Shahabuddin was only one of the three prisoners who did not share space with other prisoners and are lodged in the most secure part of the jail. The other two are underworld gangster Chhota Rajan and Delhi gangster Neeraj Bawana.

Prison officers suspect Shahabuddin may have been infected with the virus through an asymptomatic jail officer.

The death of four prisoners prompted Tihar Jail authorities on Thursday to ask the Delhi government to release prisoners under “emergency parole” help decongest the overcrowded prison.

Tihar, the country’s largest prison complex with over 20,000 prisoners, has over 260 prisoners and 115 jail officers who have tested positive, up from just 19 infected prisoners just four weeks back.

A petition that seeks parole for prisoners in the three city jails if they face charges of non-heinous offences is also pending in the Delhi high court. Last week, a bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Jasmeet Singh asked the central and state government to respond to this request by May 4.

Last year, nearly 6,000 prisoners were released on special parole and bail to decongest the jail when the pandemic first started spreading in March. With cases declining after the third wave of the infection in October-November, the Delhi high court in December ordered the prisoners to surrender in a phased manner between February and March.

Until February, the prison population was less than 13,000. However, with over 6,000 inmates back in jail, the total number of inmates went beyond 20,500, twice the jail’s capacity of 10026. Officials said it is the highest population of inmates in the jail till date.

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