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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebtities & Millionaires @ Tihar Jail

From the corridors of power to sleeping on the floor in a 10-by-15-foot cell, life has changed for bigwigs who form the VIP league behind bars.

From A Raja to Suresh Kalmadi to some of the country's best-known telecom executives, the fabulous life has given way to lights out at 11pm - a far cry from the luxury they were used to, not so long ago.

Here's a look at some of the high-profile inmates in jail.

Kanimozhi: DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi has been in jail since May 20 for allegedly accepting a 214-crore bribe in India's largest-ever swindle, the 2G scam that was reportedly masterminded by A Raja, who is also from her party.

On June 20, the Supreme Court refused to grant bail to the young MP; she had moved the apex court after being denied bail by two courts - a special court set up to try the 2G scam and the Delhi High Court.

Kanimozhi's lawyers argued that she should get bail because she is a woman, and because she needs to look after her young son because her husband works abroad.

Kanimozhi's first night in Tihar jail was a sharp contrast to the hustle-bustle and media frenzy that she had been exposed to ever since her name surfaced in the 2G spectrum scam. Kanimozhi, daughter of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi, is lodged in jail number 6 (women's cell) and ward number 8 in Tihar Jail.

The court allowed Kanimozhi to carry her medicines, books and reading glasses to the jail. It even allowed her home food, but declined her plea to be allowed to continue wearing her nose-pin while in jail.

A Raja: Former telecom minister A Raja was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 2 and was taken to Tihar jail on February 17 in connection with the 2G scam.

Raja has a separate cell of 15 feet by 10 feet in ward number nine in Tihar jail.

Apart from watching television and reading newspapers and books, Andimuthu Raja plays badminton with the inmates in the evening, jail authorities say.

Authorities also say that Raja seems hooked to snacks from the Tihar canteen, which he shares with fellow inmates.

Sanjay Chandra: The then MD of Unitech Wireless, Sanjay Chandra has been accused of conspiring with former Telecom Minister A Raja to get licenses and spectrum for mobile networks at throwaway prices.

Chandra, who has been chargesheeted for cheating and conspiracy, was arrested on April 20 and has been in Tihar jail since.

The CBI believes that he came up with a plan which centred on Raja abruptly advancing the deadlines for applications for licenses by a week. Companies like Unitech allegedly benefited from this and jumped to the head of the queue.

Sanjay Chandra quit the Uninor top job after the Telenor Group, which holds a 67.25 per cent ownership share in Unitech Wireless, asked him to step down as the company's chairman.

Shahid Balwa: Last year he was on the Forbes list of India's 100 richest people. His estimated net worth at the time, of US $1 billion, got him there - the youngest billionaire on the list. Today, Shahid Balwa sleeps on the floor in a 10-by-15-feet cell in Tihar jail, where he is currently lodged in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.

Balwa's DB Realty had floated Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB) which former Telecom Minister A Raja allegedly favoured in spectrum allocation.

The jail recently refused his request for an iPad.

Karim Morani: Delhi's Tihar jail recently became home to another VIP inmate, Karim Morani. Cineyug Films' Karim Morani has been accused by the CBI of facilitating kickback payments to Kalaignar TV and named as a co-conspirator in the 2G scam.

Morani had been seeking exemptions from court appearances citing medical grounds. He was seen wearing a neck brace during some of his court hearings.

Upon his arrest, his family had issued a statement saying 'they are completely shattered by the way Morani's medical condition was ignored'.

Gautam Doshi: Managing Director, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) was among the five corporate executives who were arrested on April 20, in connection with the 2G scam. He was charged by the CBI with trying to conceal Reliance's stake in Swan Telecom.

The CBI alleged that funding for Swan was organised overnight so that it could serve as a secret extension of Reliance.

Vinod Goenka: Another member of India's billionaire club, Vinod Goenka, was named in the first CBI chargesheet in the 2G scam case, along with four other corporate honchos. All five were arrested on April 20.

Goenka, a real-estate developer, is the director of Swan Telecom and Managing Director of DB Realty (now Etisalat DB).

Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara: Senior Vice Presidents of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara too were accused of setting up Swan Telecom as a front to acquire more spectrum and licenses for Anil Ambani's Reliance Telecommunications.

Along with Gautam Doshi, the two other executives were also arrested on April 20.

According to the rules, no operator could own more than 10 per cent in another company providing telecom services in the same area. Gautam Doshi, Surrendra Pipara and Hari Nair used Swan to get around that rule, the CBI alleged.

Siddharth Behura: Former Telecom Minister A Raja's close aide and former Telecom Secretary, Siddharth Behura was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 2 in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.

It was Behura who signed the files leading to the allocation of 122 licences. Behura had earlier said that he had merely implemented a decision taken by A Raja before he became the DoT Secretary, and so had no choice.

He is currently lodged in the Tihar jail in the Capital.

RK Chandolia: Also in Tihar jail is another aide of A Raja, R K Chandolia. He was also arrested by the CBI on February 2 along with former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and A Raja himself.

The 1984-batch Indian Economic Service officer, Chandolia was former Telecom Minister A Raja's private secretary during UPA-I when the licences were awarded.

Suresh Kalmadi: Former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chief Suresh Kalmadi is yet another high-profile inmate of the Tihar jail.

In an extensive 534-page report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Shunghlu committee said that Kalmadi ran the Organising committee like a club and misused his powers.

The CBI questioned Mr Kalmadi three times and raided his homes and offices in Delhi and Pune. On April 25, after a fourth round of interrogation, he was arrested.

The three-time MP from Pune spends most of his time in a 10x12 feet cell in jail number four. According to sources, unlike his high-profile neighbours, Suresh Kalmadi is almost a forlorn prisoner in Tihar and hardly gets any visitors.

Besides the new VIP batch, there are many other high profile convicts, many of whom are undergoing life imprisonment.

Vikas Yadav:

Son of UP politician D.P Yadav, Vikas was found guilty in the Nitish Katara murder case. Yadav's trial lasted for almost seven years and he was finally sentenced to life imprisonment in May 2008. In Tihar, Vikas works as an assistant in the jail's computer lab.

R K Sharma: IPS officer R K Sharma was convicted by a Delhi Court on March 18, 2008 for the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar and was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 24, 2008. R K Sharma works in the jail library.

Manu Sharma: Son of former minister Venod Sharma, Manu Sharma is serving life imprisonment in Tihar jail for the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall. Inside Tihar, Manu Sharma works in the jail factory that makes furniture.

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