When the Supreme Court called Tihar Jail officials “shameless” for “allowing” special facilities, including phone and other communication channels, to two real-estate scamsters in August last year, it seemed the system will shake up and order will be restored. That doesn’t seem to have happened with the Delhi Police claiming on Wednesday gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, currently lodged in Tihar, had hatched and executed the killing of singer Sidhu Moosewala.
Mingle Freely, forge alliances
- A police report on Punjab gangsters lodged in Tihar says Lawrence Bishnoi, Jaggu Bhagwanpuria mingled freely with criminals from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi-NCR
- This led to re-grouping of gangs and forming of new alliances. YAD leader Vicky Middukhera’s shooters were from NCR. The killing was ordered by Punjab gangsters
- Even 10 days after Moosewala’s murder, the Punjab Police have yet to take Bishnoi’s custody. They have also not taken up alleged laxity inside jail officially with the Delhi Police
No action on phone use
I had spoken to officials of the Tihar Jail about sharing information on state gangsters lodged there getting access to phones. Nothing was done. — Sukhjinder Randhawa, Former jail minister
The police said it was a subject of investigation on how the gangster was able to communicate, arrange weapons and money for the “job” from inside the jail. This is not the only case involving laxity on part of jail officials. Conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, also lodged in the same jail over money laundering and financial scams, reportedly paid Rs 1 crore bribe to jail officials. This was claimed by the Enforcement Directorate in its report submitted in a Delhi court. Punjab Police officials are also asking this question, but in whispered tones. The state police have not taken up the matter of alleged laxity inside the jail officially with their Delhi counterparts.
Political compulsions also seem to be at play. The Delhi Police, which made claims about Bishnoi, comes under the BJP-ruled central government. The Tihar Jail is administered by the Delhi Government, run by Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal. Punjab too is ruled by the AAP under Bhagwant Mann. AAP’s Jail Minister Satyendar Jain was recently arrested by the Delhi Police on corruption charges.
Even 10 days after Moosewala’s murder, the Punjab Police have yet to take Bishnoi’s custody for questioning. The custody has to be taken from the Delhi Police. It is unusual for a state police to be unable to get such a prime accused on production warrant for questioning.
As per a Punjab Police report on the activity of state gangsters in Tihar prepared last year, criminals, including Jaggu Bhagwanpuria, Bishnoi and others, had mingled freely in the jail with those from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana besides the Delhi-NCR region.
This had led to regrouping of gangs and forging of new alliances. The report underlined this after the killing of student leader-turned-Akali politician Vicky Middukhera. It was claimed the shooters were from the NCR region, while the killing was ordered by Punjab gangsters.
Former Jail Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said he had spoken to the Tihar officials a number of times about sharing with the Punjab Police information that state gangsters lodged in the prison were getting easy access to mobile phones and calling up people for ransom. “Nothing was done on my complaints,” he said.
Interestingly, both Bhagwanpuria and Bishnoi were taken on production warrant in extortion cases by the Delhi Police in 2020, but have not returned to the state jails even though most of the cases against them were pending there. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and party spokespersons have claimed a number of times the AAP government had enforced discipline in Tihar. It was also said Jail Minister Jain had led from the front in checking illegal activities in the prison. The Tihar officials could not be reached for comment.