Suspense and drama go hand in hand with G. Janardhan Reddy. His many trips between the Chanchalguda prison in Hyderabad and Parappana Agrahara Central prison where the Special CBI court is held has been fraught with theatrics. Consider his recent trip to Bangalore. At around 2 a.m. on Friday, the Bangalore CBI got a call from a Hyderabad police officer, who was escorting the Bellary strongman and his aide Mehfuz Ali Khan to the city, asking for directions to the Parappana Agrahara Central prison.
The escorts hadn’t bothered to check the map before they set out from Hyderabad. Stuck with a high-profile prisoner on a desolate stretch of National Highway 7 at an unearthly hour, they panicked and made the call.
“From the moment we entered Kurnool, Mr. Janardhan Reddy’s men began following our van. By the time we were nearing Bangalore, there were at least 30 large cars following us. When we lost our way, Mr. Reddy himself suggested we ask his men for directions. We stopped the van and one of us walked up to them and asked them for directions. They happily directed us. From that moment on, we were sandwiched between their vehicles as they escorted us to the jail,” one of the escorts told The Hindu.
No transit order
But the drama did not end there. The escort team was forced to call the CBI again around 3.30 a.m. with another problem. They had forgotten to bring the transit order from the Chanchalguda prison.
The authorities at Parappana Agrahara refused to allow the prisoners in without the document. A CBI official directed him to lodge Mr. Reddy and Mr. Khan at the Parappana Agrahara police station which is right opposite the jail.
Minutes later, the CBI got another call; the two prisoners were refusing to enter the police station. They told their escorts that they would rather sleep in the van than spend the night in the police station. They said staying in the police station would endanger their lives.
Irritated by their tantrums, the CBI officials instructed the escorts to let them sleep in the van. “If they enjoyed the cold and the mosquitoes, we did not have a problem,” one of the escorts later told The Hindu.
At around 5 a.m., several TV crews descended on the scene. “We believe this is exactly what Mr. Reddy was waiting for,” said one source. Pleased by the attention, Mr. Reddy preened before the cameras, complaining that the CBI was the “Congress Bureau of Investigation”. When the Parappana Agrahara police chased away the reporters, Mr. Reddy suddenly changed tack and said he wanted to take rest at the police station.
There was further drama in court. Before the proceedings could begin, Mr. Reddy stood up and complained to the judge that he was being framed and that the CBI was trying to ruin his life. After giving him a patient hearing, the judge told him that he allowed him to speak out of humanitarian concern and any further communication should be through his lawyer. No sooner did Mr. Reddy calm down than Mr. Khan sprang up seeking to submit a handwritten complaint against the police escorts.
The last laugh
But the Hyderabad police had the last laugh. “Mr. Reddy’s family had arranged a feast for him and Mr. Khan. The rules don’t allow outside food into prison,” said an escort. As his family and supporters enjoyed the feast, the two prisoners were given food coupons from the jail canteen worth Rs. 15 each. “If they had behaved, we might have allowed them the home-cooked delicacies,” he said.