The door between the cubicle of suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui and that of his killer, Sharad Mohol, was left unguarded, and the guard and hawaldar concerned have been suspended, official sources said on Tuesday.
Siddiqui, a key accused in the Bangalore blast case and suspect in the conspiracy to blow up a Pune temple, was murdered in the high-security Anda Cell of Pune's Yerwada jail last week.
Sharad Mohol, a fellow inmate, strangulated Siddiqui with the help of another inmate Amol Bhalerao.
“The Anda Cell has many parts. Siddiqui was kept in one part and Mohol… next to him. The door between the two parts was left unguarded. The guard who should have been there at the time the gates are opened was missing. Mohol is not supposed to have access to the area where Siddiqui is kept,” an official said. “This is a major lapse. It was an unfortunate incident to have happened. We need more vigorous checks. In view of the incident, we have to be more cautious. We have to take corrective as well as preventive measures.”
In the light of the murder, Maharashtra's Home Department has asked all prisons to intensify security. It is formulating guidelines, which will be followed by all jail superintendents.
Minister of State for Home Satej Patil told journalists that jails were told to utilise their staff for security on the premises. “The Home Department can provide extra home guards for security outside the jails.”
One step suggested is to shift undertrial prisoners who are in conflict away from one another. The idea is to “classify” prisoners on the basis of their affiliations to avert confrontation.
Official agencies have said Siddiqui was murdered for his “anti-national activities.” The Anti-Terrorism Squad had sought his custody from the Delhi Police in the case of conspiracy to bomb the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati temple.
Officials denied claims that the Anda Cell had CCTV surveillance. At present, only 26/11 gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab is understood to be under CCTV surveillance in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail.