The brutal killing of gangster Sunil Baliyan aka Tillu Tajpuriya in his prison cell in Tihar jail even as guards remained spectators is not the only blatant case of laxity and sensational murder in prisons in recent times. In May 2021, Mukim Kala, who was designated a gangster by the Uttar Pradesh government was killed inside Chitrakoot Jail in an incident which raised major questions on the security system of prisons in the state. Three persons were killed in that incident.
At around 10 am on May 14, 2021, inmate Anshu Dikshit, lodged in Chitrakoot jail since December 2019, allegedly shot dead Mukim Kala and another inmate Meraj Ali with a firearm. Dikshit, who was lodged in a high-security barrack, was later shot dead by police after he allegedly held hostage five other inmates and threatened to kill them, officials had said then.
“Considering his aggression and stubbornness, police did not find any other option and fired at him in which he was killed,” a UP prison department spokesperson had said then on the death of Dikshit.
Just a week before the incident, Kala had been shifted to the Chitrakoot jail from Saharanpur in western UP, where he gained notoriety during the rule of the Samajwadi Party after the BJP alleged that Hindus in Kairana were being forced to leave their homes due to the fear of his gang. The Kairana theory of mass exodus of Hindus due to the intimidation of a Muslim gangster, though discredited by both officials and journalists, was a major plank of the BJP in elections in the state. After the BJP came to power in UP in 2017, the police arrested or eliminated many persons linked to Kala.
Earlier in 2021, Meena, Mukim Kala’s mother had approached the Allahabad High Court seeking protection for him when he had been detained in Saharanpur jail. Meena alleged that the police was harassing her elder son Mukim by trying to build pressure on her to withdraw a complaint filed by her against the police after her younger son Wasim was killed in an alleged encounter in 2017.
A division bench of Justices Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Shamim Ahmed on March 22, 2021, however, noted that the response from the government did not show any harassment of her son. The court directed the state to see that no harm was caused to Kala and to act as per jail manual.
In another major prison incident, in July 2018, Purvanchal gangster Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi was murdered in Baghpat jail by fellow inmate and convict Sunil Rathi, an alleged gangster who had been shifted to the jail recently. After shooting Bajrangi, Rathi threw the weapon into a drain. The pistol—a 7.62 bore—was later recovered by police during a search operation. Ten used cartridges, 22 live bullets and two magazines were also recovered.
A week before the incident, Bajrangi’s wife Seema Singh in a press conference flagged a threat to his life. She had alleged that some political leaders and officials were conspiring to eliminate Bajrangi outside jail in a “fake encounter”. She alleged that after she made this public, those behind his murder changed tactic and instead of eliminating him outside jail did it inside the prison. After the murder, Seema Singh demanded a CBI probe into the murder. Months after the incident, the UP government dismissed Uday Pratap Singh from service, who had been suspended as the jailor of Baghpat district jail following the murder. Singh was penalized for “gross negligence” and for the fact that a pistol was slipped inside the prison and used in the murder of an inmate.