VVIP presence imprisons inmates of Central Jail
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa walked out of Central Jail recently and may have caused beads of sweat to accumulate on the brows of the BJP high command in anticipation of what was to come.
However, many inmates were genuinely affected during Yeddyurappa's stay at Parapanaagarahar Central Prison - the other inmates. According to the inmates, prison rules were thrown asunder during the former CM's 23-day stay, and they were forced to endure further hardships other than the routine ones.
They revealed that the authorities changed several rules to ensure that the tainted former CM was comfortable and his visitors were not facing any disturbances while they met.
While the official rulebook of the Central Prison clearly mentions that inmates are supposed to be unlocked at around 6.45 am every day, after Yeddyurappa's stay however, this was delayed by over an hour.
The delay has given rise to a sense of resentment amongst the inmates. "Just two or three days after he came, the authorities started unlocking the barracks after 7.30 am. This was done to facilitate movement of VVIP visitors meeting Yeddyurappa in his cell and to avoid undue attention for other inmates," revealed a source within the prison.
The prison manual was changed to accommodate his visitors and fellow party members, who were doing their best to please him and show their support throughout his stay in the VVIP cell.
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa surrounded by supporters as he exits the Central Jail after being granted conditional bail by the Karnataka High Court on November 8, 2011
Further, he allegedly ran the political scene from within the prison walls and even instructed his party men to carry out some work on his behalf.
As hundreds of leaders, party workers, relatives and well-wishers made a beeline to the Central Jail, inmates were forced to endure much discomfort. Sources revealed that the inmates were restricted to their cells in order to ensure Yeddyurappa's visitors and the inmates never crossed paths.
However, normalcy was restored shortly after Yeddyurappa was released on conditional bail. Though visitors are only allowed to meet inmates at the visitor gallery, Yeddyurappa's guests were taken good care of, because the prison authorities feared offending him and his high profile well-wishers.
"Visitors are restricted to the visitor's gallery and no one is allowed inside. But in Yeddyurappa's case, the prison staff themselves escorted the VIP visitors to his cell, maybe in return for future favours," a senior official at the prison alleged.
The source further added that according to the rules, no visitor is allowed to visit an inmate till 10 am. "But in Yeddyurappa's case, all the visitors arrived early in the morning to ensure that their visit went unnoticed by inmates and shutterbugs. The inmates would only be unlocked after visitors had left the prison premises," added the source.
Even the CCTV cameras installed to monitor movements inside the prison were powered down during visiting hours and the mandatory rule of entering visitor's name and addresses in the logbook was ignored.
Shobha in view
However, MiD DAY has a video of power minister Shobha Karandlage and her associates walking inside the prison towards Yeddyurappa's cell in the wee hours on Sunday. She had also visited him several times earlier, along with other ministers.
It may be recalled that the Chief Superintendent Lakshminarayana was transferred after he reportedly objected to bending rules for Yeddyurappa's visitors. He however obtained a stay order on the transfer by the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT).
"His decision not allow anybody to visit Yeddyurappa early in the morning resulted in his transfer. He refused to budge and hence had to bear the brunt of an untimely transfer," explained the source. Inspector General of Prisons, V S Raja refuted the allegation on violating any rules especially for the former CM.
When MiD DAY questioned him about the irregular visiting hours, as seen in footage available with this newspaper, he argued saying, "Rules can be stretched and changed on certain occasions based on our discretion.