Drugs, chillums, phones, condoms in a Goa prison!
Drugs, chillums, mobile phones, fancy razors, exotic condoms... No it's not the flea market we are talking about. Welcome to the standard fare in Goa's oldest and most secure - the Aguada Central Jail.
The shocking revelation came when a serial killer, Mahanand Naik, 45, originally imprisoned for murdering over a dozen women but now acquitted in six cases, was accused of harassing a rape victim by messaging and calling her from a phone while lodged in the jail, which was once used to house freedom fighters rebelling against the colonial Portuguese regime.
A complaint by Bailancho Ekvott, a women's rights NGO, to the Ponda police station said that Mahanand had been telephoning and texting a 26-year-old woman from the Aguada jail. He had tried to rape the woman a couple of years ago before his arrest.
He has been part threatening her and part professing his love, even as the trial in the rape case nears completion.
"This amount to harassment of the victim, that is why we filed the complaint," said Auda Viegas, the convener of the organisation.
The victim's deposition is key because Mahanand has already been acquitted in six of the murder cases, has appealed against the life sentence in one case and is being tried in the other five cases, as also the rape case.
Viegas said that Mahanand (who is already married) told the victim that he would marry her when he was out of prison.
Although a probe has been ordered by the police and prison authorities, the incident once again brings into focus the smuggling in of contraband within the prison premises.
Previous raids at the prison has yielded gadgets and other seizures which would put Anjuna's flea market, famous for its trinkets, to shame.
A state prison department official told IANS about the contraband and other innovations which were seized during a raid a couple of years ago.
"There was a bottle of packaged water with a hole. Initially we thought that it was just lying strewn around, but when we examined it closely we realised that it was a makeshift chillum for charas and ganja," the official said.
He said that articles as unusual as baby dolls, knives, erotic decks of playing cards, as well as an assortment of cigarettes, drugs, even a range of condoms, mobile sim cards all of which were secreted in cracks, between matting, inside television panels at the jail, which is housed in a historic and picturesque fort by the Arabian sea.
Behind the prison lies the Fort Aguada beach resort, operated by the Taj group of hotels.
In 2010, the Inspector General of Prisons (IGP) had started another probe after it surfaced that David Driham alias Dudu, who had been arrested on a drug peddling charge, had been found updating a Facebook account from the Aguada jail. Dudu has since been released.
Mahanand's possession of a cellphone, therefore, does not come as a surprise.
Jail Superintendent Gopal Parsenkar said that the prison authorities were examining the charges made in the Bailancho Ekvott complaint.
"It is an official matter. I cannot say anything. But we are looking into the complaint," Parsenkar told IANS.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)