The high-profile, mighty and powerful — all are lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail, one of the largest prison complexes in the world.
Politicians, high-ranking bureaucrats and top corporate honchos are all rubbing shoulders, thanks to the crackdown of the Central Bureau of Investigation in at least two cases: the scam in the Commonwealth Games and the 2G spectrum allocation.
In the spectrum scam alone, the jail is home to the former Communications Minister, A. Raja; his close aide R.K. Chandolia; the then Telecom Secretary, Siddharth Behura; DB Realty chief Shahid Balwa and his partner Vinod Goenka; Unitech chief Sanjay Chandra; and the top officials of the Reliance ADAG group G. Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipada.
Two former top officials of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee — Lalit Bhanot and V. K.Verma, both considered close associates of the former Organising Committee chairman, Suresh Kalmadi — are still lodged in one of the prisons in the Tihar complex. Mr. Kalmadi, arrested by the CBI on Monday, is also likely to head to the Tihar jail at the end of his eight-day police custody.
“Probably, it is the first time that so many top members of India Inc. are lodged in the Tihar jail. It also shows how the politician-bureaucrat-corporate nexus is working to engineer scams, and a crackdown by an agency like the CBI at least has been able to make a dent in it,” sources in the CBI said.
The agency arrested National Aluminium Company Ltd. chief A.K. Srivastav, his wife and two others about a month ago in a case of bribery. The four are still cooling their heels in the jail.
Mr. Raja, arrested on February 2 and sent to the jail later, has been the least demanding of prisoners. “Inside the jail, no one is a VIP. High-profile prisoners are not given any extra facilities unless ordered by the court,” the jail's public relations officer Sunil Gupta said here on Tuesday.
Other prisoners with high connections include Manu Sharma, who was awarded a life term in the Jessica Lall murder case; Santosh Singh, a criminal lawyer and son of a former IPS officer who was handed life sentence in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case; and the former IPS officer, R.K. Sharma, convicted in the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.
The Tihar complex, with nine prisons, and the Rohini district jail together have a sanctioned capacity of 6,250 prisoners, but are crowded, with 12,000.