With veteran gangsters lodged in prison, the Karnataka state is turning to technology for precautions against letting them escape.
In what is reportedly the first of its kind in the state, an e-court was set up at the Hindagala Central Prison on Friday, to hear a murder case filed against gangster Bannanje Raja and 10 of his associates, local media reported. An e-court is a virtual court, in which proceedings are conducted through video-conferencing from different places. The authorities resorted to an e-court over apprehensions that an attempt to free Bannanje Raja may be made.
According to a report by TOI, A video camera will be placed at the Hindalga Central Prison along with a large screen.
The e-court session was presided over by a judge of the Karnataka Organised Crime Act Court in Belagavi, RJ Satish Singh. The case related to a chargesheet filed in August 2015 against Bannanje Raja for contracting 10 associates to kill an Ankola-based businessman, RN Nayak, in 2013.
The e-court was set up in Belagavi and the judge questioned all 11 accused inside the Hindagala prison. The court ordered the seizure of immovable and movable properties of six other accomplices, who have been absconding since the killing in 2013, and adjourned the case to March 10.
The reason for this move was a planned jail-break attempt on February 2. Just a day before the attempt, six sharp shooters were arrested by the police in Belagavi’s Rex Annex lodge. On interrogation, the six accused revealed that they were in Belagavi to organise a jail break and free Dinesh Shetty, who is also lodged in the Hindagala Central Prison. Shetty has over 40 cases filed against him in various police stations across the state.
How does Dinesh Shetty’s jailbreak attempt connect with the e-court proceedings?
Bannanje Raja was accused in the murder of RN Nayak and had evaded arrest cleverly. Sometime in 2015, Raja began threatening a businessman from Udupi named Praveen Shetty for protection money.
At the time, the Karnataka police were in a fix as they had no leads to track Raja down. Shetty filed a complaint with the Udupi police and had mentioned that he had received calls from Raja, who was in Dubai.
The Karnataka police then sent Shetty to Dubai knowing that Raja would contact him. Accordingly, the call was made and Shetty recorded the conversation and filed a complaint with the Dubai police.
With the help of RAW and the Dubai Police, the Karnataka sleuths unearthed several fake passports made in Mumbai that were owned by Bannanje raja and a woman named Sona, who is believed to be his wife.
Sona’s travel records led them to Casablanca, Morocco, where the Moroccan police nabbed Bannanje Raja.
The thriller-style international manhunt to nab Bannanje Raja coupled with the recent jail break attempt at the prison where he is lodged, put authorities on a high alert. The Jail Superintendent of Hindagala prison told the media that they were apprehensive that an attempt could be made to free Bannanje Raja while he was being transported from the prison to court.
In order to maintain the high-security cordon around Bannannje Raja, the e-court was set up within the premises of the prison itself.