No view-cutters for Arthur Road jail security: MMRDA

View-cutters were meant to block any glimpse into the jail as the Jacob Circle-Wadala Monorail line passes right by it; gangster Chhota Rajan could be held there upon his arrival in Mumbai

With rumours that Chhota Rajan could be held in Arthur Road jail once he is in the city, Mumbai Police and prison authorities had already begun beefing up security in view of the danger to his life from rival don Dawood Ibrahim.

Also read: State to rent high-security cell for Rajan in Arthur Road jail for Rs 1

Passing by Arthur Road jail in a 90-metre stretch, the Jacob Circle-Wadala Monorail line could pose a security risk to several of the high-profile inmates. The government had wanted MMRDA to install view-cutters such as the ones on Grant Road Skywalk
Passing by Arthur Road jail in a 90-metre stretch, the Jacob Circle-Wadala Monorail line could pose a security risk to several of the high-profile inmates. The government had wanted MMRDA to install view-cutters such as the ones on Grant Road Skywalk

However, these efforts could be seriously compromised as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has refused to install view-cutters along the new Monorail corridor that will pass by the jail. This could leave Rajan, and other high-profile inmates, exposed to surveillance or attacks.

To block any glimpse into the prison compound
To block any glimpse into the prison compound

Precautions planned
The MMRDA had in 2010 agreed to resolve this problem by installing view-cutters or blinds along the 90-metre stretch of the Jacob Circle-Wadala Monorail corridor running past the jail on Sane Guruji Marg.

According to sources, Chhota Rajan could be held in Arthur Road jail once he is brought to Mumbai. File pics
According to sources, Chhota Rajan could be held in Arthur Road jail once he is brought to Mumbai. File pics

At the time, the Home department — chaired by the then Home Minister RR Patil, was worried that the Monorail would affect the security of another notorious criminal lodged in the jail – 26/11 terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab. While granting permission for the Monorail line, the state government had insisted on three conditions to minimise the risk.

The state instructed the MMRDA to install view-cutters to block the view of the prison from the Monorail, as well as increasing the height of the prison walls and building two new watchtowers in the jail compound.

Backtracking
Only after the MMRDA agreed to all the conditions did it get the NOC for the Jacob Circle-Wadala line. However, earlier this year, it backed out of two of the conditions — increasing the wall’s height and constructing the watchtowers. The MMRDA stated it would be enough to just install the view-cutters, blocking any glimpse of the jail.

Also read: You can't build too close to jail, criminals are at risk - Arthur Road Jail authorities to BMC

However, it has emerged that the planning authority is now backtracking on the final condition as well, insisting that adding view cutters to the Monorail is simply not possible technically. This time, Rajan, another high-profile criminal, could be housed in the prison.

There is considerable attention on security arrangements for him, due to the long-standing blood feud between him and Dawood. There have been reports of several attempts allegedly made on Rajan’s life by Dawood and his right-hand man, Chhota Shakeel. According to sources, the Monorail could now leave Rajan vulnerable to another such attack in jail.

No space
Metropolitan commissioner UPS Madan told mid-day, “It is true that the Arthur Road jail authorities had insisted on installing steel view-cutters on the stretch of the Monorail that passes in front of the jail, but we wrote to the government and informed them a few months ago, that this is not possible.

The Monorail travels on a single guideway beam of concrete, so there is no space on the side where we can install the view-cutters. A lot of design changes will have to be made for this, so we have explained to the government in detail why we cannot install the view-cutters. I am hopeful that the authorities will understand our problem.”

Also read: Arthur Road jail halts Monorail in its tracks

Another MMRDA official claimed there was barely any risk posed by the Monorail, as it was merely a 90-metre stretch passing by the jail. This distance will be covered by the trains within 12-15 seconds, leaving little time for an attack, said the official.

“We have been reading in newspapers that Chhota Rajan might be brought to Arthur Road jail in future. It’s obvious that the security in and around the jail will be increased when he is brought here. I personally don’t think there is a security concern. The monorail is a closed-door form of public transport and it will pass by the jail in great speed.

In fact, there are other buildings and towers also in the vicinity; I don’t know why only we were asked to install view-cutters,” the official said. Officials from the Home department and the chief minister’s office remained unavailable for comment.

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