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Rediff.com  » News » INSIDE TIHAR: Rasam for Kani, chai for Kalmadi

INSIDE TIHAR: Rasam for Kani, chai for Kalmadi

Last updated on: July 7, 2011 07:55 IST

INSIDE TIHAR: Rasam for Kani, chai for Kalmadi

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It is official now: VIP prisoners do get VIP treatment inside Tihar Jail.

Asia's largest prison complex, which today houses the who's who of politics and the corporate world, metes out 'preferential treatment' to its high-profile prisoners.

The recent startling discovery by an inspecting trial court judge -- who found that disgraced Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi was being entertained with tea and snacks in the jail superintendent's office -- is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Inspecting Trial Court Judge Brijesh Kumar Garg had on Thursday paid a surprise visit to Tihar's Jail number 4, which is home to Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

While he found Kalmadi having "tea, biscuits and namkeen" in Jail Superintendent S C Bhardwaj's office, he also found Nitish Katara murder case convicts Vikas and Vishal Yadav strolling around in the garden well beyond the permitted time. The judge also found all the cells in the ward unlocked. 

Reportage: Sahim Salim


Image: Tihar jail
Photographs: Reuters
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'At best, VIPs get preferential treatment'

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But jail sources told rediff.com that terming this as 'VIP treatment' would be stretching the facts.

"At best, they get preferential treatment. For instance, when the trial court judge caught Kalmadi having tea in Bharadwaj's office, he was waiting to be taken to the hospital for a check-up. While he was discussing his health problems, Bharadwaj's tea and snacks were served for the evening. Bharadwaj offered tea to Kalmadi, who accepted. Similarly, Vishal Yadav was found in the garden because he often prays in the temple which is in the garden of his ward," the officer said.

But Tihar's Law Officer Sunil Gupta admitted, "Yes, it is against the rules. You cannot entertain a prisoner in a jail superintendent's office and that is why disciplinary action has been suggested against Bhardwaj. In our inquiry, irregularities were found and in our report to the Union home ministry, we recommended disciplinary action against Bharadwaj. Further action, if any, will be taken by them." 

 


Image: Suresh Kalmadi
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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'Raja often goes in to complain about his health'

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Though Gupta claimed that this was a one-off incident, sources told rediff.com that such 'special treatment' is often accorded to VIP prisoners.

For instance, sources said, former telecom minister A Raja keeps going to the jail superintendent's air-conditioned office on some pretext or the other. Raja, who is lodged in Jail number 1, has often complained about Delhi's severe heat. 

"Raja often goes in to complain about his health problems. And since he is just an undertrial, his complaints are entertained in the jail superintendent's office. He often spends 15 minutes to half an hour in the superintendent's office," a jail source said. 

 


Image: A Raja
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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Other inmates clean Shahid Balwa's cell

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In addition, claim sources, if an inmate has money, he can make other inmates work for him. In exchange for food coupons at the jail's canteens, 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa and Siddharth Behura allegedly make inmates clean their cells and deliver food and water.

"That is nothing new. Even Kanimozhi (DMK Member of Parliament who is lodged in jail number 6) has inmates coming in to clean her cell. She also has food delivered to her cell. They also deliver newspapers and magazines to her cell. In exchange for this work, she gives them food coupons," a jail source said. 

 


Image: Shahid Balwa
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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Dosa, rice-sambar, rasam for Kanimozhi

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Explaining the new form of bribery in the form of food coupons, the officer explained, "Each inmate is allowed two visits per week. During each visit, visitors can purchase food coupons worth Rs 1,000 for their concerned inmate. In exchange for some of these coupons, high-profile prisoners get their special work done."

Another source said that while regular inmates have dry chapatis, daal, sabzi and rice, inmates like Kanimozhi (jail number 6), Raja (jail number 1) and Kalaignar TV's managing director Sharad Kumar (jail number 4) get specially cooked south Indian food like dosa, rice-sambar, rasam etc.

Sources said that some jail inmates are specially chosen and trained to cook these meals for the high-profile inmates.

 


Image: Kanimozhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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