In Ti­har jail, Chhota Ra­jan feeds cu­rios­ity, fears over se­cu­rity

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Prawesh Lama prawesh.lama@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: He is Ti­har’s lat­est Bhai but he re­mained off-lim­its — rest­ing through the day in his spar­tan soli­tary cell and oc­ca­sion­ally es­corted out for meals and vis­its to the jail dis­pen­sary af­ter all his fel­low pris­on­ers were locked away in their bar­racks.

Un­til Oc­to­ber 25, the day he was ar­rested in Bali, even the hard­ened crim­i­nals in In­dia’s largest prison would have prayed not to cross paths with Ra­jen­dra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Ra­jan.

But when a posse of armed guards hus­tled the 55-year-old gang­ster through the cor­ri­dors of Jail No. 2 to his cell af­ter dusk on Thurs­day, ev­ery­body wanted a piece of him. “Bhai, bhai,” they shouted from be­hind the grills that held them back.

Ev­ery­body wanted to meet him, talk to him. Jail of­fi­cials were no ex­cep­tion. “He did not look fright­en­ing. He looked like an old man from south In­dia. Ev­ery­one wanted to see his face,” said a prison of­fi­cial.

The last time Ti­har was abuzz with sim­i­lar cu­rios­ity was dur­ing In­dian Mu­jahideen chief Yaseen Bhatkal’s first night at the prison. “This jail has al­ways had celebrity pris­on­ers like Bhatkal and Charles Sobhraj,” the of­fi­cial said.

Chhota Ra­jan: Un­der­world don

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