The rot in Arthur Road Jail runs deep. Just days after the state prison department slammed the “loose administration” under the charge of jail superintendent Bharat Bhonsale for the illegal movement out of prison of former PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Ponzi scheme operator Shekhar Chandrashekhar, more skeletons have come tumbling out of the closet.
Aviva Hospital at Lokhandwala in Andheri (W). Pics/Prabhanjan Dhanu
Vimal Barot (36), the vice-president of Mumbai-based events and hospitality service provider Showman Group who was arrested in 2014 and subsequently lodged in Arthur Road Jail for defrauding Dena Bank of Rs 220 crore, has reportedly been living a cushy life since December 2015 at a super-speciality hospital, barely 10 minutes from his Lokhandwala residence.
Vimal Barot has been staying, under the protection of eight cops
Barot was admitted to the 50-bed Aviva Multispeciality Hospital, opposite Laxmi Industrial Estate in Lokhandwala, Andheri West, for a skin infection allegedly on the basis of a forged document. He allegedly pays Rs 5 lakh a month to the jail authorities to stay in the hospital.
Vimal Barot, vice-president of Showman Group, has been in Aviva Multispeciality Hospital in Lokhandwala since December last year
Barot and co-accused - Devendra Bhogle and Rahul Gohil — were arrested, along with Pritam V Nagarkar, former chief manager of Dena Bank’s Malabar Hill branch in Mumbai, for defrauding the bank by mobilising term deposits of Rs 256.49 crore from various organisations. On the basis of forged requests for overdraft facilities against term deposits of at least seven companies, loans were sanctioned to these organisations.
According to the CBI, Nagarkar and Barot allegedly conspired to siphon off R220 crore, causing losses to Dena Bank. In June this year, the CBI filed a chargesheet against all accused in the case.
When mid-day visited the Aviva Multispeciality Hospital yesterday, we found that Barot had been admitted to room 13 on the fourth floor. Four police personnel, including an SI, posted for his security, were found inside room 12. Sub-Inspector Bharat Kadam and other two constables were engrossed in watching television.
Sources said police personnel deputed to security are often found lolling around in the hospital.
Bhonsale admitted that Barot is in Aviva Hospital, but claimed that he had been shifted to the facility as per the sessions court’s order.
“He reported a skin infection, following which we shifted him to JJ Hospital. From there, Barot was admitted to Aviva Hospital based on a certificate he produced from JJ Hospital, recommending that he be shifted there. We have already written to JJ Hospital authorities to form a committee and find out whether Barot is actually in need of the said treatment.”
Asked why Barot was admitted to Aviva in particular, he disconnected the call and did not respond to further calls. Sources, however, claimed that Barot was admitted to Aviva on December 3, 2015, with the help of a fake certificate from JJ Hospital.
Liposuction or cancer?
The certificate was allegedly signed by a resident medical doctor of JJ Hospital, Dr Amol. This certificate was produced in the sessions court to obtain the transfer to Aviva.
The sources alleged Barot underwent a liposuction surgery after his admission to Aviva as proof of medical treatment on papers.
Patients from Arthur Road Jail are usually treated at JJ Hospital, which is fully equipped to handle all sorts of cases. A family friend of Barot, however, claimed that he had been admitted for skin cancer and was under therapy.
Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, said the facility had not issued any certificate recommending treatment elsewhere. “Undertrials/criminals are not recommended for admission to private hospitals. I will check how it was possible in this case.”
Sources from Aviva Hospital said Barot has been in the facility for around six months.
“Around 10 days ago, there was an issue with the management because the patient was allowed to bring in home-cooked food and was enjoying a lavish life. His family members visit the hospital daily and spend hours chatting with him. Most of the time, his wife, Monika Vimal Maluka (producer of film Rahasya) visits the hospital,” said a source.
Nitesh Gupta, the resident medical officer of Aviva refused to divulge information on Barot, saying he was not authorised to do so.
Dr Jahanzeb Khan, head of administration and marketing of Aviva, too, refused to speak on the issue, saying she had a throat infection and could not talk properly.
A senior official from the Mumbai police said Barot has been provided with a 24x7 police escort, with eight policemen keeping an eye on him, from the Tardeo local arms unit.