Prison staff suspended for supplying phone in Karnataka | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Prison staff suspended for supplying phone in Karnataka

By, Belagavi
Aug 11, 2023 01:01 AM IST

The prison department suspended two staff members over corruption allegations after an internal investigation

The prison department on Thursday suspended the head warden and a warden of Hindalaga jail following the corruption allegations during an internal investigation, officials familiar with the matter said.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari received a threat call from one of the prisoner on January 14. (ANI)
Union minister Nitin Gadkari received a threat call from one of the prisoner on January 14. (ANI)

“Head warden BL Melavanki and warden VT Vaghamore have been suspended from their posts due to alleged involvement in providing prisoners with unauthorized external amenities including facilitating the use of cell phones,” officials said.

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Upon the directive of Prisons ADGP Malini Krishnamurthy, Deputy ADGP (northern range) TP Shesha ordered the suspension of these individuals. Officials in the know of the development said that both Melavanki and Vaghamore had been supplying prisoners with items like food, tobacco, and bedsheets from outside, and they were also involved in letting prisoners use cell phones, which led to their suspension.

After revelations of irregularities, negligence, and corrupt practices within the jail came to light, the prison department initiated an investigation and conducted an internal inquiry, during which the guilt of the suspended individuals was established, added officials.

Prashant Mogaveer, a murder convict from the coastal Karnataka region’s Kundapur, who has been serving a life sentence at the jail since February 22, 2018, for a murder committed in Kundapur in 2014, reportedly used a cell phone to record video footage of the lapses within the jail.

He shared these visuals with his contacts last month. The video had an audio commentary in Kannada.

Following the incident, the assistant superintendent of the Belagavi Prison, K Shahabuddin, lodged a first information report (FIR) with the Belagavi rural police against Mogaveer for using a cell phone within the restricted jail area.

A case was registered against him under sections 424 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 42 of the Prisons Amendment Act. The case was investigated by station inspector (SI) Vijaykumar Shinnur.

The century-old prison gained media attention and captured national interest when it was revealed that two convicted prisoners had established connections with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist organization based in Kashmir.

One of the prisoner Jayesh Pujari made a threat call to Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari’s public relations office (PRO) in his Nagpur constituency in Maharashtra on January 14, demanding 100 crore and claiming to be a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. At that time, he was lodged in a jail in neighbouring Karnataka, police have said.

Pujari who had been incarcerated at Belagavi jail since 2013, came into contact with LeT terrorist Basiruddin Noorahmed, also known as Afsar Pasha.

Afsar Pasha had been convicted for bomb blasts in Bengaluru in 2012 and was also involved in a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PLMA) investigated by the enforcement directorate (ED).

Jayesh Pujari, serving a life sentence, underwent a transformation after connecting with Afsar Pasha.

He converted to Islam and changed his name to Shakeer Ahmed, becoming an ardent follower of the Islamic faith.

Belagavi jail superintendent Krishnakumar informed HT that the duo (Pujari and another individual) used newly admitted prisoners’ mobile phones to contact Union minister Gadkari’s office.

Both prisoners, who are in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), admitted to calling Gadkari, who is closely associated with the Hindu right-wing organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Recently, a convicted individual was severely injured in an altercation and was admitted to the ICU of a government hospital in Belagavi.

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