KARNATAKA

Nine prison personnel suspended

Special Correspondent

GULBARGA: Nine prison officials, including the Superintendent of the Gulbarga Central Prison, John Margin Baptist, have been suspended and nine others transferred to different prisons in the State. This follows the busting of a major racket involving a prisoner arrested under the Goonda Act using a mobile phone to continue his operations from the prison.

Official sources said here on Saturday that the issue of the prisoner Kashinath Kode using his mobile phone to make threatening calls to a follower of the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, came to light when it was raised by Mr. Siddaramaiah in a Cabinet meeting.

The prison officials in the Gulbarga Central Prison, to queries from the Government about the incident, initially denied that such an incident had happened. When the threatening calls continued, the Government decided to depute two senior officials of the Prisons Department to investigate the matter.

The two-member team headed by Mr. Raja made a surprise visit to the Central Prison a few days ago and recovered a mobile phone from the cell where Kode was lodged. They found that Kode had made around 600 calls on the mobile phone after he was transferred to the Gulbarga Central Prison less than a month ago. Besides the calls made to the follower of Mr. Siddaramaiah, he had also made calls to other numbers in Hubli, Belgaum and other cities, the team discovered.

The sources said that details of the other calls made from the phone used by Kode were being gathered and the Government is likely to launch separate criminal proceedings against him for violating prison regulations.

Serious view

The Government has taken a serious view of the alleged connivance of the prison officials in allowing the prisoner to use a mobile phone from his cell.

The suspended prison officials, apart from the Jail Superintendent, include the Assistant Superintendent, C.R. Tallur; the Chief Warden, Syed Maharaj Hashmi Patel; the jailor Mallikarjun; and the wardens V.N. Rahalkoyar, Nagendrappa, Subashchandra, Bandappa Malgatti, and B.T. Hallur.

Of the nine others transferred, seven have been transferred to the prison in Bangalore and one each to Belgaum and Raichur. The Government plans to take further action against the officials for allowing criminal activities inside the high-security prison.

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