The alleged planned killing of gangster Tillu Tajpuriya in the high-security Tihar Jail has put the spotlight back on gang wars inside jails and security arrangements.
The jailed gangster Tajpuriya was allegedly killed in an attack by rival gang members on Tuesday. He was allegedly thrashed with iron rods by gangster Yogesh Tunda and his aides inside the high-security prison.
The Delhi High Court on Monday questioned jail authorities over the recovery of four knives from Tihar premises where gangster Tajpuriya was stabbed to death. The court asked why no preventive or remedial action was taken by authorities when the incident took place as the entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras installed on jail premises. The killing marked the second such incident inside the high-security prison in less than a month.
The walls of jail complexes have seen multiple instances of murders, attempted murders, and conspiracies to kill.
From Neeraj Bawana, Manjeet Mahal, Kala Jatheri and Neetu Dabodia to Irfan Chhenu and Hashim Baba, Tihar jail, the most-secure prison in the country, is home to leaders of almost all such big gangs. Police officials were quoted as saying by Hindustan Times that with many of their gang members also lodged with them, the jail has become a volatile place in terms of security.
Here are some other recent incidents:
On April 14, Prince Tewatia, 33, an associate of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, was killed similarly in an early-morning attack inside the jail by rival gang members following an altercation with an inmate. An under-trial prisoner, he was lodged in ward no. 6 of the jail no. 3 which has around 380 inmates.
Officials claimed they were carrying out intensive searches in wards for improvised weapons and other illegal items, such as mobile phones, after the Tewatia incident. They were also maintaining a “strict vigil” through CCTV cameras.
Sidhu Moosewala's murder accused
On February 26, two Sidhu Moosewala murder case accused were killed in the Goindwal Sahib Central Jail in Punjab's Tarn Taran district. The killings were described as part of gang rivalry. The deceased were identified as Mandeep Singh alias Toofan of Batala and Manmohan Singh alias Mohna of Budhlada. Seven rival gangsters were booked for the killings.
In the video that surfaced, the gangsters were seen pointing to the bodies lying on the floor with some on-duty police personnel nearby. An inmate who identified himself as Sachin Bhiwani said the slain gangsters were henchmen of Jaggu Bhagwanpuria. Bhiwani and others in the video allegedly belonged to the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which had come to the fore initially after Moosewala's murder.
Web of gang rivalries
On November 30, 2020, an associate of jailed gangster Neeraj Bawana was shot dead by three armed assailants, who fired at him 18 times, in Outer-North district’s Alipur area. Preliminary investigation by police revealed that the gang members of slain gangster Jitender Gogi were allegedly behind the murder, according to a report by Indian Express.
Police also found that the day of the incident fell on Gogi’s birthday — January 27, the report said. Two years later on August 22, a member of Irfan Chhenu gang was allegedly thrashed to death by his rivals.
On January 8, a well-known criminal by the name of Deepak Tinu, who is also facing charges related to the murder of Sidhu Moose Wala, orchestrated an assault against three of his fellow inmates using sharp and thin iron metal, according to media reports. The three injured inmates were admitted to Tarn Taran civil hospital.
Other deaths in jails that raised eyebrows
Besides gang wars, on March 3, 2021, one of UP’s most wanted criminals, Ankit Gujjar, 29, was found dead inside Tihar’s jail number 3 after sustaining injuries allegedly due to a fight. In August last year, a 20-year-old prisoner, Samir Khan, died of head injuries after a brawl with a fellow inmate.
The main accused in Nirbhaya’s brutal gang rape and murder, Ram Singh, was found dead in his cell in Tihar Jail in 2013, hours before he was supposed to appear for court proceedings.
"Singh’s body was found hanging from a grill on the ceiling at around 5.45 am by officers of the Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP) who form jail security," Tihar law officer and spokesperson Sunil Gupta was quoted as saying by Times of India, adding that it is unclear whether it is a case of suicide or murder.
However, Singh’s family and his lawyer alleged that he had been murdered.
"His shirt was torn which shows there was a scuffle before the death. He told me last week that inmates were planning to kill him. He has not committed suicide," Singh’s father Mange Lal claimed, according to the report.
Running criminal operations from inside jails
Gangsters are also known to be planning and plotting their “operations” from inside the prison complex with the help of messaging apps on mobile phones. According to reports, Congress leader and Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala’s murder was allegedly planned inside the Tihar jail. Conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar was even accused of running an extortion racket from inside Rohini jail.
According to reports, the murder of Jitender Gogi, a prominent gangster who was shot while attending a court hearing at Rohini complex, was purportedly premeditated by the rival Tillu gang, and the plan was hatched inside Mandoli prison complex back in September of 2021.
How these gangsters gain access to these devices in a high-security prison has been a bone of contention. Prison authorities have in fact, set 2023 as the year where Tihar will be "phone free".