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Jails don’t stop gangsters from operating anymore

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New Delhi, July 30, 2019 –

Jails no more bar the underworld dons and gangsters from carrying out their nefarious activities, including extortions.

A number of cases have come to light recently which revealed how the gang lords, lodged in Tihar and some other jails in the National Capital Region (NCR), carried out their operations through WhatsApp calls using wifi or VOIP (voice over internet protocol) numbers. The WhatsApp calls are meant to dodge the jammers in place.

Mobile phones and the gadget required for the wifi are smuggled into the prisons for the purpose, not without the connivance of the some jail staff members, and it makes it immensely difficult for the agencies to intercept such calls.

In one such case in February, gangster Rahul Kala, who is an undertrial lodged in Delhi’s Rohini jail, extorted Rs 50 lakh from a businessman through a video call, sources said.

On March 6, a joint team of Special Staff and Central District police arrested four accomplices of gangster Keshav Kakkar, after a city-based businessman reported an extortion call made to him through a WhatsApp video call. Kakkar is currently lodged in the Rohini Jail.

Highlighting that some police personnel collude with the gangsters, a constable of the Tamil Nadu Special police, deployed inside the Rohini jail, was recently caught supplying mobile and internet telephony gadgets to the gangsters.

The incident which seriously compromised the security of the jail was brought to the notice of IG-Prisons who got the accused constable terminated.

“The gangsters have gone hi-tech. They are using international 4G SIM cards for WhatsApp calls, making it impossible for us to track their phone conversations. High speed internet dongles are smuggled inside the jails and later used by other inmates. The connivance of the lower rung staff of the jail cannot be ruled out,” a senior officer of Tihar Jail said on condition of anonymity.

Sources said that internet telephony was also exploited by the gangsters in betting related to the recent cricket World Cup.

“The inmates easily break the SIMs once they get connected with their gang members outside the jail through WhatsApp video calling. Most dreaded gangsters in Tihar Jail such as Neeraj Bawana are running their gangs and indulging in contract killings, extortion rackets and other crimes through internet calling,” the official said.

“Such gangsters pay huge money to the canteen staff and security constables in jails to obtain banned items. That is the easiest way for such hardened criminals who spend years behind bars to get in touch with their gang members,” the officer added.

In March this year, a video, shot using a mobile phone, surfaced showing a gangster cooking and chatting with other inmates inside his cell in Tihar Jail. The 15-minute clip showed the man filming the facilities he enjoyed inside his cell. He also took a selfie with another inmate.

After the video went viral on YouTube and Facebook, an inquiry was conducted by a DIG rank officer and it was found that the jail officials had provided all facilities to the three inmates — Salim, Rustom and Sohrab — all brothers from Lucknow after allegedly taking money from them.

In another case last year, a Magistrate recommended an FIR against the Tihar Jail officials, including the Tihar Director General for allegedly giving favours to Unitech promoters Sanjay and Ajay Chandra inside the jail.

However, the data of the Delhi Armed Police’s 3rd Battalion, which is tasked with escorting prisoners and convicts to and from the prison, has a different story. Among the items that this team confiscated from the prison inmates till April this year were over 30 mobile phones.

On June15 this year, two high-end I-phones were also allegedly found hidden beneath the bedsheet of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala who is lodged in Tihar Jail in national capital.

The cellphones were recovered from Chautala’s cell at 6 a.m. after officials in Tihar jail conducted a surprise inspection in Jail No. 2.

“Two Android mobile phones, a charger, some tobacco powder and a wire were recovered during the surprise check at Ward No. 3. The search officer got suspicious by Chautala’s body language and on seeing a wire hanging out from beneath his bedsheet. Earlier, we got a tip-off that mobile phones were used in Jail No. 2,” Tihar Central Jail AIG Raj Kumar said recently.

In 2018, the recoveries included 100 mobile phones and watches hidden in body cavities and clothing, more than 1,000 pouches of tobacco products and sharpened metals strips which could be used as weapons, and other banned items such as blades, cash, knives and even narcotic substances.

It is not just Tihar. In February, 11 mobile phones, smart chargers and batteries were recovered from a packet allegedly thrown inside the Bhondsi jail complex, a month after relatives of three prisoners were booked for allegedly trying to sneak in drugs, mobile chargers and bluetooth.

Last year, 48 persons were booked after 84 mobile phones and 18 SIM cards were seized from inmates in Bhondsi Jail, according to Jai Kishan Chillar, Superintendent of Police (SP), Bhondsi Jail.

“In February 2018, 22 abandoned mobile phones were seized from Bhondsi jail after a clash between inmates of rival gangs led by Bindar Gujjar and Rajesh Bawana and Ashok Gujjar following which they also attacked on jail officials,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sumit Kumar.  (Agency)

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