In 2009, during the DMK regime, history-sheeter Welding Kumar was murdered in Puzhal Prison – 1. Following this, the then Director General of Prisons R. Nataraj was transferred to the fire and rescue services department. Welding Kumar was accused of attempting the murder of senior DMK leader and lawyer Shanmugasundaram and his detractors got their revenge when DMK was in power. That incident set off shock waves then.
On Wednesday, around 8am, at the same Puzhal – 1 prison, Boxer Murali of Vyasarpadi was murdered in cold blood, once again putting a big question mark over security arrangements in Puzhal prison.
In Tamil Nadu, Chennai Puzhal, Vellore, Salem, Cuddalore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Palayamkottai have prisons for men. Heading the state prisons is Additional Director General of Police and under him several Deputy Inspector Generals, as well as superintendents, additional superintendents and jailors operate and secure the prisons.
In 2007, DMK’s Tiruvarur district secretary Poondi Kalaichelvam was murdered and the plan for the murder was finalized in a jail. After that, intelligence and vigilance officials have been tasked with the job keeping tabs on prisoners as well as prison officials. This monitoring continues to this day.
When the central jail was near the Central railway station, in 1999, Boxer Vadivelu, a gang leader from North Chennai, was mysteriously murdered. Following this, there was a massive prison riot and a prison official, Jayakumar was murdered by prisoners. In the firing by the police that happened during the riot, some 10 people died and more than a hundred were injured.
In 2006, the modern Puzhal Prison started functioning. In this, undertrials, convicts, women, juvenile prisoners are kept in separate facilities.
Detenu held under National Security Act and Goondas Act and undertrials were lodged in Puzhal II. Recently, however, those held under preventive measures were moved to the convicts facility of Puzhal – I.
Undertrials such as Police Fakhruddin, Panna Ismail, Bilal Malik have also been lodged here under solitary confinement. Patients, mentally unsound, first class prisoners and others have separate prisons. Prison officials such as deputy jailors, assistant jails, chief head warders, first grade warders, warders and hundreds of officials keep a watch on these prisons. Intelligence and vigilance officials also monitor the cells.
CCTV cameras have been fitted everywhere. Experts like psychologists, social workers and welfare officers too work here. It in prison with such infrastructure that Boxer Murali has been murdered.
Boxer Murali has several pending cases against him. He was arrested under Goondas Act and kept under preventive detention. Weapons like sickles were used to kill him, prison sources say, adding that the murder was so cold-blooded and cruel that his genitals were mutilated.
In June, just two weeks ago, Vijay who was being investigated murdered his co-prisoner Ramesh by smashing a stone on his head.
The talk in gangland is that the murder was ordered by Chennai’s mafia don Nagendran was behind this.
Welding Kumar’s murder in 2009, the murder of Ramkumar who was accused of hacking techie Swathi in 2016, and today’s murder of Murali hacking of Swathi in 2016 have cast a shadow over the security arrangements in Tamil Nadu’s prisons.