NEW DELHI — The first Home Minister of India to end up in the Tihar Jail, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who has been sent to 14 days judicial custody in the INX Media case, spent his first night Sept. 5 in his cell on the floor with only three to four blankets to his comfort.
The following day, however, Chidambaram was given a wooden board, that too, on medical advice.
According to highly placed jail sources, inmates above 60 years of age are given a wooden board to serve as a bed, but only on the written recommendation of the jail's authorised doctors.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a source told IANS that when Chidamabaram was brought to jail on Sept, 5, he underwent a medical check-up, but at that time there was no move to give him a wooden board, so the former Union Minister had to spend the first night on the floor.
According to sources, in the morning Chidambaram expressed his desire to go out in the open, and the wardens posted for security gave him permission to take a stroll outside.
Another source said that Chidambaram also decided to have the breakfast provided in the jail, and then underwent another medical check-up. Following this, the medical staff directed the jail authorities to provide him the wooden board.
No jail employee was ready to answer why Chidambaram was not given the wooden board on Thursday itself.
When the CBI court sent him to judicial custody, there was speculation that since he enjoys Z-category security, he may be sent to a jail other than Tihar's Jail No 7, marked for those accused of economic crimes. However, it was Jail No 7 for him only.
Tihar Director General Sandeep Goyal told IANS that Chidambaram has been kept in Jail No 7 as per the jail manual.
When asked if it was right to lodge someone allocated Z-category security in Jail No 7, he said: "Every jail inmate receives adequate security. The jail administration only goes by what the courts and the jail manual say. Every prisoner is protected."
As soon as Chidambaram reached the jail, he first underwent a medical check-up, and the results were normal. Then an officer of the rank of Assistant Jail Superintendent and some jail wardens took him to his cell in Jail No 7. Three-four blankets and some items of daily use, including a plastic bowl, spoon, plate and glass were given to him.
Prisoners were earlier provided with items of steel, but since they turned them into makeshift weapons, plastic items have been distributed.
According to the jail manual, three people can visit a prisoner in the day and on Sept. 6, Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram, and two others, reached Tihar to meet him.