Arrested BK16 Poet Alleges Intimidation After Protesting Prison Corruption

Gorkhe has been in prison since September 2020.

Credit : Indie Journal


Poet and activist Sagar Gorkhe, who has been in prison since September 2020 in Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case, has alleged that the prison canteen at Taloja Central Jail is being run for the benefit of the wealthy inmates, at the expense of others. He has also made a shocking allegation that when he and his co-accused Mahesh Raut tried to voice these concerns, a senior jailor threatened them and also instigated criminals accused of serious crimes against them. However, while Kharghar Police Inspector said that he had not received any such complaint, the Additional DGP of Maharashtra Prisons dismissed saying that ‘there is no content in it [complaint]’.

Gorkhe has filed a complaint at the Kharghar Police Station alleging that the canteen has been using supplies from the ration allotted for the prisoners, to provide VIP service to the wealthy inmates, thus adversely impacting the quality of food served to the ordinary inmates at the jail.

The prison canteen is supposed to be run on a no-profit no-loss basis. However, Gorkhe writes in his complaint that the prison has started running the canteen for profiteering.

“They are taking money from the wealthy prisoners and providing them with VIP facilities by taking resources from the ration supplies meant for all the ordinary prisoners. They are illegally being served delicacies such as Fried Chicken, Hyderabadi-Muradabadi Biryani, Schezwan Rice, Prawns Biryani, etc. They are running an illegal business with a turnover of lakhs,” Gorkhe writes in his complaint submitted to the Police Inspector at the Kharghar Police Station.


Page 1 of the complaint filed by Gorkhe.


He has also alleged that since the supplies are diverted towards providing VIP facilities to a few inmates, it has drastically affected the quality of the food served to the rest of the prisoners. He also said that when he raised his voice against this corruption, he was threatened by the jailor.

“On June 18, 2024, Senior Jailor Sunil Patil called my co-accused Mahesh Raut and me to the office of the Superintendent between 11 am and 12 noon. When we began speaking about our anti-corruption stance, Sunil Patil responded to us in a threatening language. He asked me not to interfere in the canteen issue and to carry out my social work outside the prison,” Gorkhe said in his complaint.

The complaint also mentions allegations against the senior jailor accusing him of instigating the wealthy prisoners accused of serious crimes against Gorkhe and Raut.

“He told these inmates that their VIP facilities would stop because of the ‘Elgar’ inmates (those accused in the Elgar Parishad case). He also said that these criminals are being directly or indirectly instigated to silence us, if they want their VIP facilities to continue. We fear any untoward incident might happen with us at any point,”Gorkhe writes.

While this complaint was sent to the Kharghar Police Station via Speed Post of the India Post on June 29, 2024, Rajeev Shejwal, Senior Police Inspector at Kharghar Police Station said that he has not received any such complaint.


Postal receipts of the complaint sent via India Post.


On the other hand, Amitabh Gupta, Maharashtra (Prisons) Additional DGP did acknowledge the complaint, however dismissed the concerns expressed in the complaint.

“There is no content in it [complaint]. He [Gorkhe] has been moved from his cell, that is why he has made the complaint. Still, we are looking into it,” Gupta told Indie Journal.

Gorkhe has in fact been moved from the high security cell to the general ward owing to the demolition work that is taking place at the high security cell.

However, his complaint pertains to the alleged corruption at the prison. He writes, “We have always been insistent that all the proceedings at the prison take place as per the Prisons Act 1894 and the Maharashtra Prisons Rules, 1970. We have been insistent that the corruption in prisons must stop. The corrupt officials at the prison do not like this and they have been harassing me and my co-accused.”

Gorkhe was one of the 16 activists and intellectuals who were arrested by the Maharashtra Police and the National Investigation Agency for allegedly instigating Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). While eight of the BK16 (Bhima Koregaon 16) are now out on bail, seven still remain incarcerated. Fr Stan Swamy, human rights activist and one of the oldest accused in the case, lost his life inside the jail on July 5, 2021.

This is not the first time that Gorkhe has raised concerns about the treatment in prison. In 2022, he went on a hunger strike to protest against the humiliation and human rights violation that he faced at Taloja Central jail.

Around two months ago, jailed journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh, who is currently imprisoned at Shahid Jubba Sahni Central Jail in Bhagalpur, Bihar, had also alleged that he was threatened by his cell incharge.