It may be known as a high security prison, but this is just a namesake — a lot goes on inside the prison, from gambling and drugs, to sexual abuse.
There are three circles in Yerwada Central Prison, with eight, six and nine barracks respectively. Circles 1 and 3 are for convicts and Circle 2 is for undertrials.
There are yards such as the Tilak Yard for gangsters, Anda Barrack for terrorists and big gangsters, Fansi Gate for high security prisoners and death convicts, Baba Room for 18 to 25-year-old undertrials, and B Yard for political prisoners.
The prison’s security is very poor. There are around 1,000 prisoners in one circle and just two or three police constables and one jailor to guard them. Whenever an undertrial is brought in, he is tortured by police and troubled by inmates.
Mobile phones, money, drugs and alcohol get smuggled into the jail. To smuggle alcohol and drugs, police officials themselves charge three times their actual price.
For supplying drugs to inmates, officials take a ‘hafta’. Prisoners pay police in rupees, which also get smuggled inside through officials, and the prisoner who buy drugs from fellow prisoners pays them in jail currency — ‘coupons’. As per my knowledge, 75 per cent of inmates smoke ganja.
There are gambling clubs as well, known as ‘Chhaka Pao’. Prisoners also give money to police officals to play matka on their behalf. If they win, half the amount goes to the police.
Mobile phones are only for gangsters, they keep it with jailors and take it when they require it. If an ordinary prisoner wants to call home, he pays Rs 50.
Take for example, the case of Gopal Rajwani of Ulhasnagar, a gangster and the rival of gangster-turned-politician Pappu Kalani. Rajwani was in jail in 1998, when R B Chowdhary was the Jail Superintendent.
Rajwani’s wife used to hand over money to the supervisor, and later, Chowdhary used to pass it on to Rajwani. (Chowdhary was later suspended).
There is no shortage of money inside — if the jail is raided right now, you will easily find Rs 15-20 lakh.
Police officials also take bribes to forward parole applications of prisoners. Usually, they charge Rs 100-200 for it.
An ex-DIG (Prisons) used to take money from high-profile criminals to extend their parole for six months, charging around Rs 70,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Incidentally, the officer was suspended in 2004.
The barracks are overcrowded —around 100 or more prisoners live in barracks that are supposed to house 60 inmates. New inmates or undertrials have to sleep near toilets, they don’t get blankets, toothpaste and sometimes not even water to wash.
Sexual abuse is also rampant. The warder watchmen, mainly prisoners who have completed at least five years of their term, keep vigil on the Baba Room, and lure young undertrials with drugs to get sexual favours from them there.
In jail terminology, these undertrials are called ‘laundas’ and prisoners often get into fights over them. Weapons such as small knives are made by inmates, and available to influential inmates such as gangsters.
Yerwada Central Prison doesn’t live up to its motto of “correction and rehabilitation”. Influential inmates get everything they want, while others are abused in this hell. - As told to Prateek Goyal
Recent controversies inside yerwada prison
Aug 1, 2013: Undertrial Dinesh Kumar Harijan (26) committed suicide by hanging himself with a towel in his cell. He had been in jail for a theft since February 2013, after being arrested by Vishrambaug police
Aug 12, 2013: Jailor Viman Nimje was assaulted by undertrial prisoner Vijay Charya during a surprise check by jail authorities. Charya blocked their way and demanded the reason for interrogating inmate Rohidas Gupte, for laundering cash inside the jail
Sep 3, 2013: 1993 Mumbai bomb blast convict Mohammed Farook Yusuf Pawale (50) died of pulmonary hypertension, according to the jail superintendent. His family blames jail authorities for his death
Oct 6, 2013: Undertrial Prahalad Waman Veer (35) committed suicide — prima facie, he slit his own throat with a sharp object. He was in jail for murdering his wife
►► The jail is overcrowded, with 1,200 male prisoners and 240 female prisoners. Ideally, there should be 500 police constables keeping vigil but we have only 350 posts, out of which 100 are vacant — so, there are only 250 constables keeping watch. Jail officials are not involved in the smuggling of mobiles, money, alcohol and drugs in.
Yes, there have been cases where prisoners get these things in inside luggage or insert drugs into chappals, but officials do not help them.
The sexual abuse of young inmates in this ‘Baba Room’ does not happen. We have old warder watchmen keeping an eye on things in their barracks
- Yogesh Desai, Jail Supdt, Yerwada Central Prison