Khan, who used to run a notorious satta racket during the 80s, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special TADA court on September 1, 2001 in connection with the 16 March, 1993 Bowbazar blast.
He started painting during his confinement at ACCH. He appealed to the state correctional services department to shift him to the recently-inaugurated Lalgola home at Murshidabad district. In a letter to Inspector General (prison) Ranveer Kumar, he wrote that he would teach painting to children of Lalgola, said a senior state government official.
Accordingly, the proposal was placed before a committee dealing with issues relating to prisoners.
In an open air jail, prisoners are allowed to go beyond the boundary fencing and mingle with local people. They are also allowed to stay outside their cells (cottages) from 8 am to 8 pm. Only those, who do not pose any threat to security, are normally kept at open air correctional home. Correctional services department officials consider Khan eligible to stay at the open air correctional home as they do not apprehend any threat from Khan.
“The Kolkata police has raised objection to Khan’s appeal. The committee will sit again to take a final call,” Kumar told The Indian Express. Asked if still there is any possibility of Khan being shifted to Lalgola home, Kumar said the committee has the right to “overrule” objection of the police.
“The most important issue is whether the prisoner in question has corrected himself or not,” Kumar said, adding that the final call on Khan’s plea will be taken shortly by the committee.
Khan, a Bowbazar resident, was arrested a day after the blast which claimed lives of 69 people in the heart of Kolkata. The bomb exploded in a multi-storeyed building on BB Ganguly Street in the wee hours of 16 March. Those sleeping on the pavement adjacent to the building were killed after the structure, owned by Khan, collapsed following the blast.
Meanwhile, the objection raised by Kolkata police against Khan’s petition did not go down well with the correctional services department officials. “During his almost 20-year stay in the correctional home, not a single complaint against him has come to us. He also helped other inmates to correct themselves. He reads books and takes part in cultural therapy, which was introduced to help the inmates. He deserves to be shifted to open air jail,” a jail official said.