Patna, Dec. 8: This was shopping with a difference — not at any traditional shop or a mall, but at the Beur jail that has been home to some of the state’s most high profile prisoners.
The prison authorities today auctioned off as many as 711 mobile phone sets that had been seized during raids conducted on the jail premises over the months.
Stalls had been set up on the prison campus to sell off the gadgets, some of them high-end ones manufactured by Nokia, Samsung and LG.
Around 150 people, most of them youths, made a beeline for the stalls when the auction began at 11am.
The sellers were not ordinary salesmen but staff of the jail, where hardcore gangsters and Maoists are lodged.
“How much does this cost?” asked a youth, pointing to a brand new mobile set displayed in a box. The seller said the minimum price was Rs 210. Since there were no further bids for that set, the youth — an engineering student who requested anonymity — got the phone for a steal.
Another youth, who had come from Harun Nagar in Phulwarisharif, purchased a high-end phone for his girlfriend. “I already have a mobile phone that is worth over Rs 8,000. But I have purchased another set for my girlfriend. I can’t get such a sophisticated mobile phone set at such a throwaway price,” he told The Telegraph.
Even policemen had queued up. “The mobile phone sets are being auctioned and anyone can bid. What is wrong if a policeman too bids?” the cop asked.
Jail superintendent Shivendra Priyadarshi said a total 641 mobile phone sets were sold for Rs 1.67 lakh, and added that senior officials of the department would decide how the money would be used. “This is the first such initiative by any jail, not only in Bihar, but anywhere in the country,” said inspector-general (prisons) Anand Kishore.
The mobile phone sets auctioned today were seized during search operations carried out on the jail premises, including the prisoners’ wards. Priyadarshi revealed that relatives of the inmates sometimes left phones in fields, on trees, in drains and near the jail in the hope that the prisoners would get to them later, with a little help from jail officials.
At least five brand new mobile phone sets were seized from the ward of gangster Bindu Singh, who is alleged to have plotted the attack on Beur jailor Amarjeet Singh on July 27 this year. Bindu was shifted to the Bhagalpur central jail after the attack. A cellphone was also recovered from the ward of ganglord Ritlal Yadav, an accused in the murder of BJP leader Satya Narain Sinha.