Sajjad Mughal, convicted for the murder of lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha, has deftly escaped a criminal justice system that reined him in equally swiftly after he brutally murdered Purkayastha in 2012. Glaring loopholes, lack of communication, and red-tape have emerged as the ropes that Mughal cleverly used to pull himself toward freedom.
Sajjad Mughal was granted parole from February 29 to March 23
Irresponsibility and negligence were present at various stages of the parole process, right from the divisional commissioner’s office to the Nashik jail authorities and Jammu and Kashmir police. Poor co-ordination, no prompt action and negligence in checking the status of a prisoner who has been convicted for a heinous crime were lucrative add-ons, aiding Mughal’s escape.
Unnoticed for months
Mughal was granted parole from Feb 29 to March 23 to see his ailing mother in Kashmir. He was allowed to leave the jail after divisional commissioner granted him parole, but he never visited her in Kashmir. His disappearance went unnoticed by any of the government agencies for months.
The most shocking aspect of the procedure is that the Nashik jail authorities were following an unwritten rule for not taking suo motu updates of Mughal when he did not return to jail after his parole ended.
“When a convict is out on parole, he generally extends it [extension is allowed for a maximum of 90 days] by moving an application to the divisional commissioner. The jail authorities did not contact the divisional commissioner office [on March 23 and even after that] to check if Mughal had been granted an extension, as he did not return on the last day of parole. We would have done that once his 90-day parole was completed,” a Nashik jail official said.
The Nashik jail authorities filed an FIR with the Nashik Road police station against Mughal on April 28, only after the divisional commissioner’s office informed them in the last week of April that Mughal has been refused an extension for his parole.
Div commissioner’s office
The divisional commissioner’s office had received an application to extend Mughal’s parole. But it sat on it for days and did not keep the jail in the loop. The last day of his parole passed, but neither the divisional commissioner’s office nor the jail authority bothered to check on the criminal.
In the last week of April, the divisional commissioner’s office informed Nashik jail officials that Mughal has been refused a parole extension, following which jail officials lodged an FIR with the police. But by then, Mughal had already escaped.
Sanjay Deshmukh, senior inspector of Nashik Road police said, “A case under section 224 of the IPC was registered against Mughal and it has been transferred to J&K police.”
Unresponsive J&K cops
Another glaring negligence was found on the part of J&K police, which was kept in the loop by the divisional commissioner’s office and the Nashik jail authorities before and after Mughal was released on parole.
A senior jail official said, “After releasing Mughal, we informed J&K police about it and everything is on record. Mughal was given parole on the condition that he would give daily attendance at the concerned police station. So, if he did not report to the police station on the first day then why didn’t the senior police authority there inform us or the divisional commissioner’s office?”
Ramesh Kambale, superintendent of Nashik Central prison, said, “Till date, we have received no response from J&K police, despite sending two reminders to them about Mughal.” Mughal’s family, who reside in Kashmir, has claimed that he never reached home. mid-day tried to contact DIG of Baramulla police station Uttam Chand, but he did not respond.
Pallavi’s father Atanu Purkayastha said, “It is the divisional commissioner and jailer who are responsible for granting parole to such a hardened criminal. These two gave him parole without even discussing it with anyone whether he should be granted parole or not. It is their duty to know the gravity of the matter before giving parole to any criminal.”
He adds, “It’s a huge embarrassment for the state government, because it nullifies all the efforts put in by the cops and judiciary to nab and convict him.”
“I will meet CM Devendra Fadnavis and request him to pay serious attention in matter. It’s not easy for me or my family to handle this situation. It feels like we’re going through the same things we did four years ago. Today, because of the divisional commissioner, a hardcore criminal is out on the streets.”