RJD members, who came from Bihar to meet Lalu Prasad, at Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi on Saturday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi, Oct. 5: Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad began Durga path today, the first day of Navratra, in his upper division room at Birsa Munda Central Jail where the VVIP prisoner has been lodged since September 30.
“He took a bath early in the morning and started Durga Saptashati path in his room around 9.30am. His neighbour and co-accused R.K. Rana (former Janata Dal MLA) assisted him. He spent around two hours praying to the goddess,” a jail source told The Telegraph.
The former railway minister, who was serving a 5-year sentence after a conviction in a fodder scam case, is also on a strict non-vegetarian diet, having asked for food without onion and garlic during the nine-day-long festival.
“He asked for a packet of corn flakes, which has been provided to him,” said a jail officer.
Sources revealed that Lalu’s wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi was keen on visiting him in prison tomorrow. But, the RJD chief had passed on a message through aides, asking her to come after the festivities as there was “no hurry”.
RJD workers maintained that Lalu and his family observed Navratra every year at his Patna residence.
The kaidi number 1528 —allotted to Lalu yesterday evening by the jail administration — appeared hale and hearty today, but did not meet many visitors.
Apparently aware of a PIL filed in Jharkhand High Court alleging several “violations” of the provisions of the Bihar jail manual, the former Bihar chief minister has apparently decided to keep a low profile and meet visitors after 3 pm.
The petition was filed by one Raju Kumar on Thursday, alleging Lalu had been meeting visitors in custody in contravention of rules.
In his petition, Raju mentioned that according to rule 55 of the jail manual, a convicted prisoner could only meet a family member or those close to him after obtaining written permission from the jail superintendent.
But, IG (prisons) Shailendra Bhushan, who visited the jail today, has been maintaining that according to the manual, the jail superintendent had the power to allow visitors to meet VVIP prisoners.
Today, IG Bhushan met all VVIP/VIP prisoners, including Lalu. He also visited the jail hospital to check whether rules were being followed.