Delhi gangster Neeraj Bawana wants iPod, non-veg food in Tihar jail cell
An iPod, FM Radio, and home-made food (preferably non-vegetarian) — these are some of the demands listed by jailed Delhi gangster Neeraj Bawana. He has told the prison officers that since he is segregated and kept in isolation in Tihar jail, he needs these items to “pass time and maintain his sanity”.
The jailed gangster, who was Delhi’s most wanted gangster until his arrest in April 2015, listed the demands to the superintendent of jail number 2, where he is currently lodged.
A prison officer, privy to the development, said jail’s superintendent has told Bawana that such items are not permitted to given to the prisoners under the jail manual rules. The officer reportedly told Bawana that he already has access to the prison’s in-house radio service where he can listen to music. In Tihar, prisoners run an in-house radio service across the jails.
Unlike the 17,000 prisoners who share cells or barracks inside the 400-acre Tihar prison complex, Bawana and two other prisoners — underworld don Chhota Rajan and gangster-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin — are lodged alone in separate cells.
Rajan was convicted in the 2011 murder of journalist Jyotirmay Dey and sentenced last year to a life term while Mohammad Shahabuddin, found guilty in a 2004 double murder is serving a life sentence. The three are lodged in adjacent cells but are barred from interacting with each other or any other prisoner.
Bawana was earlier lodged in jail number 1 with other prisoners but was transferred to the high-security ward next to Rajan and Shahabuddin last year after Delhi police informed the prison authorities that Bawana was in touch with his gang members inside and outside prison.
A senior prison official, who did not wish to be named, said, “Bawana earlier demanded a television and a telephone. He has also approached the court with the request. That is still a plausible demand considering the jail manual has provision for television and phone call facility. But we cannot allow non-vegetarian food from home or iPod or FM Radio.”
The official said Bawana, in his application to the jail authorities through the court, said he is a non-vegetarian and that he was losing his diet because of the jail food. Only vegetarian meals are served in Tihar.
Prison expert Sunil Gupta, who was Tihar jail’s law officer for over three decades until his retirement in 2015, said that “if he remembers correctly” non-vegetarian food has always been banned in prison. Gupta said though radio is allowed, the FM radio is banned because it could be misused as a communicating tool.
“We banned home-cooked food because prohibited items were smuggled with the food. There were cases where jail officers found currency notes hidden in between lawyers of a parantha. I remember instances of guards finding pouches of drugs dipped in gravy brought from home. Home food is allowed only on the directions of the high court. Non-vegetarian food was banned even before the 1980s when I joined prison. Our predecessors believed that non-vegetarian food promotes violence. Maybe that is the reason they banned non-vegetarian items in prison,” he said.
Dawood Ibrahim was his idol and Tihar Jail the first classroom where he learnt the tricks of the trade he wanted to rule.
For Neeraj Bawana — one of Delhi’s most feared and wanted gangsters — it all started with a petty robbery attempt at Haryana’s Bhiwani when he was 18 years old.
It was the first step in his desperate attempt to gain the number one position in the Capital’s underworld. Having modelled himself on the lines of his idol, India’s most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.
His ambition took off when he met Fazal-ur-Rahman, a close associate of Dawood who operated from Malaysia, Dubai, Nepal and India, in Tihar jail and spent a few months with him around 10 years ago, police said.
Police said Bawana was inspired by Rahman who persuaded him to enter the extortion business by sharing stories of Dawood and his association.
Expanding his operations in the extortion and contract killings, Bawana led his gang to new heights. Rivals from the two other dreaded gangs — Dabodia/Paras alias Goldy (currently in jail) and Rajesh alias Karambeer gang— were either arrested by the police or killed.