Mumbai : Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, facing a death sentence in Mumbai terror attacks may be moved out of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail soon, if the state government responds to a police request for the same citing heightened security risks, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Ajmal Amir Qasab may be shifted to Pune's Yerwada jail, say sources. Despite the elaborate security cover at Arthur Road, where Qasab is lodged in solitary confinement in an anda cell, Mumbai police has acknowledged threats to the terrorist's life due to the jail's small size and its location in the heart of the city. Sources said, the state government has responded positively to the suggestion and a process for the transfer has already been started. Police is now only waiting for the High Court to confirm Qasab's conviction, following which he will be shifted to Yerwada jail till his fate is decided.
Confirming the development, Crime Branch chief Himanshu Roy said, “Though such a proposal has been presented to the government, we are expecting one more meeting before a decision is taken.” Another officer privy to the decision told Mumbai Mirror, “Despite all the cover, Qasab is always under threat at Arthur Road. The jail is right next to a road that has heavy traffic. A monorail line is slated to pass by the jail walls giving commuters an easy peek into the facility and specifically Qasab's cell. Someone can launch an assault or do a reconnaissance this way. Prevention of an attack in Mumbai will thus require far greater manpower and security cover.”
A Home department official added that unlike Arthur Road jail, which is spread over merely two acres, Yerwada being the largest jail in Maharashtra is spread over 64 acres. “It is also isolated, hence it's easy to provide cover and scan suspicious elements there. There is an isolated ‘anda' cell in Yerwada which is vacant. It was in this cell that Khalistani terrorists Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, who had assassinated Operation Bluestar architect General Arun Vaidya in 1986, were lodged. Qasab too will be lodged here,” said the official. Though the Yerwada cell is already fortified and safe, certain extra security arrangements will be have to be made before Qasab is moved there, said sources. “Some of the security features of Qasab's cell in Arthur Road will be replicated in Yerwada. The government has already allocated funds for it,” said the officer.
According to sources, the proposal to shift Qasab out of Mumbai was first mooted in May this year after the special court convicted him. “A meeting was held between senior officers of Mumbai police and the state government where the then Mumbai CP D Sivanandhan had suggested that Qasab be moved out of Mumbai. He had been kept in the city amid all the risk only because of the trial he was supposed to be present for. However, an opinion was expressed at that time that the Bombay High Court might demand his presence when he challenges the conviction and thus the proposal was stalled,” said the officer.
Recently, however, the high court decided to take Qasab's deposition through video conferencing, consequently clearing the decks for his shift to Yerwada. The government, however, will wait till the high court confirms his conviction which may take a month and a half. The court will start hearing the matter from October 18.
- The state government had spent crores of rupees to keep Qasab safe at Arthur Road jail. His cell, that flanked the erstwhile TADA court and was separated from the rest of the 10 barracks in the jail by a wall, was made bullet and bomb-proof by integrating metal sheets in the cell walls.
- A similar tunnel was built connecting his cell to the Special Court where his trial was held. Over 250 men worked on the project for several weeks and the state incurred expenses in excess of Rs 2 crore.
- Apart from this, a string contingent of Indo-Tibetan Border Police constantly guarded Qasab's cell apart from men from Mumbai police. Mirror