Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator Jeetendra Awhad was shown the rule book and asked to leave the jail premises when he came to visit NCP corporator Najeeb Mulla, one of the four corporators who have been lodged in Thane Central prison for allegedly abetting Thane-based builder Suraj Parmar’s suicide.
Parmar had shot himself in a flat in his under-construction project and had left behind a 13-page suicide note, in which he had mentioned some names but had later scratched them out saying that those people might harass his family. The letter was sent for forensic analysis, after which the corporators’ names are under the police scanner.
The jail officials told Awhad that a legislator can only visit the jail premises, but cannot interact with any inmates. The incident took place on December 15, said a jail official.
Incidentally, Awhad’s name had cropped up when the public prosecutor in the case, while arguing against the anticipatory bail application of the four corporators, arrested on December 4, had cited investigation into the transfer of Rs 1.7 crore from Mulla’s bank account to Awhad’s as one of the reasons for extending their custody. Awhad had later claimed that he along with Mulla and two others had formed a company and the fund transfer was to pay the directors remuneration.
While the prison manual says that a public representative can visit the jail premises, politicians have in the past used that clause to meet inmates as well. Last year, after a similar incident in Satara jail, the prison officials discussed the issue and added a clause stating that the representative can visit the prison but cannot ask to meet a particular inmate. This clause came in handy for Thane prison officials who told Awhad that “he can come and have a cup of tea with them but cannot meet Mulla”. “We told him that only his family is allowed to meet him. If he did want to meet, he would need to take permission from the court. He has not returned since,” a jail official told The Indian Express. A prison official said that a similar situation had once taken place when Priya Dutt, a Member of Parliament (MP) then, had come to visit Sanjay Dutt in prison on grounds that she was an elected representative. She was informed then that she could meet as a family member but not as an MP. The procedures for both meetings are different.
When contacted, Awhad said that he did go to Thane prison as he was not aware about the rules and when he was told he cannot meet Mulla, he left. “I had been told by former legislators that I could go and meet inmates and hence I went to Thane prison. However, when they told me that there was a circular in place disallowing legislators to meet inmates, I left without further ado,” Awhad told The Indian Express. Sources close to the legislator added that allegations of money transfer from Mulla to him were baseless.
Meanwhile, a prison official added that for security reasons, the four corporators have been kept in the high security anda cells at the central prison. The four are kept in separate anda cells. An inmate of the anda cell cannot mingle with other inmates inside the prison. There are in all 10 anda cells at the Thane Central prison. While the corporators are kept in the anda cells on one side of the prison, the five anda cells on the other side of the prison house among others Saquib Nachan, the former SIMI general secretary, accused of several blasts across the city including the Mumbai 2002-03 serial blasts.