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All set for 26/11 verdict; security all-time high

May 02, 2010 19:24 IST

Amid a general alert across Mumbai, a thick security blanket has been thrown in and around Arthur Road Jail where a special court will pronounce its verdict in the Mumbai terror attacks case tomorrow.

Both the special court and the cell of Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman captured during the attacks, are inside the high-security prison.

Checkposts have been set up at strategic points along the Sane Guruji Marg which leads to the prison near Saat Rasta in south Mumbai, police sources said.

Patrolling has been intensified and sand bunkers have been erected behind which armed policemen are standing guard round-the-clock.

The road next to the prison has been made one way and registration numbers of all the vehicles passing on that route are being noted down by police.

Since the trial began about a year ago, Kasab has been lodged in a bullet and bomb-proof cell especially designed to protect him from any attack. This cell is connected to the court by a tunnel which no bullet or bomb splinters can penetrate.

The Pakistani gunman is guarded by a 200-strong contingent of Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The jail is divided into two sections -- one housing the court and Kasab's cell and the other having 11 barracks, a jail hospital and an egg-shaped cell meant for high-profile inmates.

The courtoom was first set up in 1996. Initially, it was a make-shift court but later fortified and made a permanent court to try the 1993 Mumbai serial blast case accused.

After 26/11 attack, the government decided to make it a permanent court to try terror cases. Entry to this court is through a heavily guarded gate through which only court staff, lawyers, mediapersons and policemen, who hold special passes, are allowed.

The passes are scanned by a computer which already has been fed with data about the person seeking entry. Everyone has to enter his name and pass number in the register while making entry and exit.

The jail is meant for undertrials and those convicted are shifted to other prisons in the state. Built in 1926, the Arthur Road jail is Mumbai's largest and oldest prison. It was upgraded in 1994 as a central prison and has the capacity to accommodate 1050 inmates although more than 3000 are lodged there now.

The 26/11 trial has restricted the movements of the local residents. The main road has been made one-way with one section permanently reserved for "Outdoor Broadcast Vans" of the electronic media.

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