The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to shift gangster Sunil Rathi out of Baghpat jail days after he allegedly shot dead don Munna Bajrangi inside the prison.
The district administration of Baghpat and the district jail authorities have written to the State Home Department requesting for Rathi’s transfer.
Confirming this to The Hindu on Thursday, U.P. Additional Director General (Prisons) Chandra Prakash said while Rathi is still to be shifted out, “the file is under process”.
“I don’t think it will take much time. In a couple of days, I should get the orders,” Mr. Prakash said.
Asked if the inmate was being moved due to security reasons, Mr. Prakash said: “One major incident has already taken place [in Baghpat jail], so the security reason is also there.”
It is, however, not clear where Rathi, who is serving life sentence in a double murder case, will be shifted even as speculation is that he could be moved to a bigger prison, perhaps in Lucknow or Allahabad. Several jails are being considered, Mr. Prakash said.
Shortage of warders
According to sources in the prison department, Uttar Pradesh has an acute shortage of warders in jail — out of a required strength of 9,000, the State has only 4,000 across its 70 jails. Moreover, while the sanctioned total capacity of prisons in U.P. is 58,000, almost twice that number are lodged behind bars, said an official.
After Bajrangi’s murder, the State government suspended four jail officials including jailor Uday Pratap Singh and deputy jailor Shivaji Yadav.
Rathi allegedly shot dead Purvanchal gangster Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi inside the Baghpat jail early on Monday.
A 7.62 calibre 32 bore weapon was used to commit the crime and police also recovered 10 used cartridges, 22 live bullets and two magazines from a drain inside the jail.
While police said an altercation broke out between the two leading to the shooting, Bajrangi’s family has alleged the murder was premeditated and planned by his political and mafia rivals in eastern U.P. in collusion with the State government.
Rathi not only enjoys clout inside Baghpat jail due to his criminal record, which extends to neighbouring Uttarakhand, his mother Raj Bala is a three-time Nagar Panchayat chairman and even contested Assembly polls from Chaprauli in 2017 on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket.
Rathi had previously been shifted to his home district Baghpat from Roorkee jail in Haridwar.
Bajrangi was brought to Baghpat from Jhansi jail, where he was lodged, on Sunday to appear in a local court in the western U.P. district in connection with the extortion of former BSP MLA Lokesh Dikshit.