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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Taloja jail official who wanted Elgaar accused shifted gets transferred

Had sought accused in Bhima Koregaon case to be shifted to other prison

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: July 5, 2021 7:03:09 am
The Taloja Central Jail in Raigad. (Express Photo by Narendra Vaskar)

TALOJA JAIL superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar, who recently sought the transfer of the male accused in the Bhima Koregaon case to another prison, has been moved to another posting attached to the office of the Inspector General (prisons) as a part of an administrative shuffle, a senior prison department official said.

Additional Director General (prisons), Sunil Ramanand said, “He (Kurlekar) is posted to Washim prison and had the additional charge of Taloja Central Jail. He will now be attached to the IG’s office.”

Last year, after a transfer order was issued to Kurlekar, he had approached the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), which had then stayed the transfer. Officials said the initial transfer was ordered based on reports including complaints received regarding his handling of the prison administration.

Over the last few months, Kurlekar had approached the special court with applications to transfer the male accused in the Bhima Koregaon case lodged at Taloja Central Jail, to another prison on the ground that they, through their lawyers and kin, were giving “false complaints” to put pressure on the jail administration. Lawyers of the accused persons had called the ground for seeking transfer “malicious” and added they had only highlighted the lack of basic facilities provided to all inmates.

While the application to transfer the accused was allowed by the special court, the accused have not been transferred so far.

Currently, Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor are lodged in Taloja Central Jail. Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy and Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu are admitted to private hospitals for treatment and Varavara Rao is on interim bail for six months.

The women accused in the case, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj and Jyoti Jagtap, are lodged at Byculla Women’s Jail.

Last week, Rama Teltumbde and Susan Gonsalves, had filed a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking an inquiry and action against the jail superintendent for allegedly restricting academic Anand Teltumbde and activist Vernon Gonsalves from writing to them and their lawyers. The petition stated letters sent to them were either withheld or posted belatedly and that no response was received on letters written by them to their respective husbands.

In various hearings before the High Court, it was also brought to the court’s attention that the jail only had three ayurvedic doctors to handle the healthcare of inmates.

Overcrowded jail

Spread over 27 hectares, Taloja Central Jail, which was founded in 2008 as an alternative to the severely overcrowded Arthur Road jail, was the only prison taking new inmates during the pandemic in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and had lodged over 3,000 inmates against its capacity of 2,124.

It has, so far, recorded 35 Covid-19 cases, including three deaths since the pandemic.

Apart from the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, the jail has undertrials like the dismissed cops arrested for their alleged involvement in the Ambani terror scare case including Sachin Waze, retired cop Pradeep Sharma, gangster Abu Salem and Yes Bank founder, Rana Kapoor.

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