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Salem’s ‘Nikah’ not qubool

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Abu SalemAccording to the sources, gangster Abu Salem is likely to get married for the third time with Sayed Kausar Bahar in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail premises. Salem had earlier sought a 45-day-parole to get married but his application was rejected by the Konkan Divisional Commissioner under whose jurisdiction the prison falls, citing security concerns for the extradited gangster. If the marriage does happen in prison, is it justified? Why is the state government giving preferential treatment to Salem who is responsible for the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts?

Criminal lawyer Abbas Kazmi said, “It is all unprecedented and I have never come across such incidents earlier where husband and wife got accommodated in a jail for getting married. The court will seek an opinion of jail authorities to ascertain whether the convict is undergoing any problem and deliver judgement accordingly.”

“Court takes a decision pertaining to granting parole to convicts. But sometimes there is some disparity in the jail report submitted by jail authorities. Sometimes they submit a positive report to favour the release of some prisoners,” he added.

At a time when the victims of the bomb blast incident have to wait for several years to get justice, why a gangster like Salem is offered VIP treatment? Earlier there were reports about the state government offering luxurious treatment to Salem in the jail. He has been offered his own manservant and is known for throwing parties to his inmates with home food.

Former judge of Bombay High Court, Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil said, “Salem can be granted parole after receiving a nod from jail authorities. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit have been granted bail. Salem is accused in the 1993 Bombay bomb blast incident. There are some cases where real accused are roaming freely and their substitutes are lodged in jail.”

Is it justified to waste so much money on a convict like Salem at the cost of taxpayers’ money? Will other criminals get the same treatment like him? Will they be offered permission to get married inside the jail premises? News about Salem has been garnering headlines in media. Why media is giving too much coverage to a criminal like him?

There is a huge difference between the facilities offered to a regular convict as compared to their VVIP counterparts. AIADMK leader V K Sasikala had offered Rs 2 crore bribes for availing perks such as five rooms, television and bed. Abdul Karim Telgi was offered body massages by three to four convicts allotted to him in the jail. Sahara chief Subrata Roy had paid Rs 1.3 crore for obtaining facilities like an air-conditioned room, mobile phone, video conferencing and Wi-fi connection. RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was offered television set and two cooks for preparing meals of his choice. Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh was permitted to eat home-cooked food, mineral water and use western style toilet. On the other hand, lives of ordinary prisoners are difficult as they are lodged in shoddy cells and have to perform various tasks.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said, “No it’s false. Salem has not received special treatment and all these allegations are baseless.”

Before rejecting the plea, the Divisional Commissioner had sought a report from the Thane Police Commissionerate, as Salem’s registered address is that of Mumbra. Mumbra was once a den for underworld activities. Though, Salem is on the hit list of many rival gangs and providing him security outside jail would be impossible.

Advocate Sudeep Pasbola said, “I don’t think that Salem has received any special treatment in jail.”

On March 12, 1993, a series of 12 blasts rocked Mumbai in quick succession claiming the lives of 257 people and injuring 713 others. Property worth about Rs 27 crore was destroyed. Miscreants had targeted Air India Building, the Bombay Stock Exchange, Zaveri Bazar, and hotels such as Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur. Salem was the mastermind behind the blasts. Salem was extradited to India from Portugal on the condition that he shall not be held in prison for more than 25 years.

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