Posted On Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 02:37:04 PM
One of the prominent faces among the seven heads that rolled following the killing of alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui in Yerwada Central Prison on June 8 was that of Prakash Pawar, then Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) who was subsequently transferred to Mumbai as head of Training and Special Squads.
|Two Yerwada Central Prison guards are seen cleaning ADG Pawar’s car at his residence in this file phote
Following Pawar’s removal, it has now emerged that the State’s Home Department has proposed two different inquiries against the officer.
One relates to the murder of Siddiqui and another, more importantly, to look into the allegations that Pawar compromised prison security when he employed jail guards at his residence in two different locations for the upkeep of his garden and to maintain the cleanliness of his various privately-owned cars.
Sources said the heat was turned on the jail administration following Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s visit to Mumbai shortly after Siddiqui’s murder. Earlier in February, the harassed jail employees had a staged a protest at the Central Building, which houses the headquarters of the state’s prison department.
The initial investigations conducted by the State into the circumstances that led to Siddiqui’s murder in broad daylight and right under the nose of prison officials in what is supposed to be a high-security prison cell revealed there was a security lapse.
Also, it was found that the already under-staffed prison was stripped of its employees further as a number of them were unable to perform their prison duties because they went to work elsewhere after reporting their attendance.
The statements of about 20 jail guards were recorded during the inquiry set up on orders of Medha Gadgil, the state’s Principal Secretary (Home). Speaking to Mirror, one of the complainant guards said on condition of anonymity, “I gave a written statement to the committee that our boss (ADG Pawar) was harassing us.
• Ex-ADG Pawar was using jail staff to walk his dogs, to sweep the premises and work in his garden. When Qateel was murdered inside the Anda Cell, there were less number guards to monitor the inmates
After reporting for work at the prison office, we were assigned duties either at Pawar’s official bungalow at Queen’s Garden or his private residence in Baner. We used to clean his vehicles or simply guard his house in two shifts.”
“From January till March this year, at any given time, there were about 35 jail guards who reported for duty and later proceeded to serve at Pawar’s residence.
It was only after our agitation that the number of guards performing Pawar’s personal (unofficial) duties came down to 15 to 18 jail guards but we were still short by 10 to 15 at the prison,” he revealed.
A senior prison officer, on condition of anonymity, informed Mirror, “We have a workforce of 250 guards which is divided in two shifts which means that only 125 jail guards are available to monitor the activities of 3,700 inmates of YCP in a shift.
Sometimes, a few report sick or are on holiday. In emergency situations only 100 to 115 jail guards are available per shift.”
“When Qateel was murdered inside the Anda Cell, there were only two guards to monitor the inmates’ activities when there should have been five,” he added.
“It was shocking that despite the agitation against him, the number of guards used by Pawar for his personal work reduced but the routine did not end,” the officer said.
Speaking to Mirror, Gadgil said, “During the agitation the staff reported that Pawar asked them to clean his private vehicles and maintain his garden.
Some revealed that they were used to guard his bungalow. We have initiated an inquiry against Pawar after hearing all the complaints made by the staff. However, we will have to ascertain all the facts before taking an action against Pawar.”