Arthur Road Jail
|Location||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
Arthur Road Jail (Marathi: ऑर्थर रोड जेल), officially known as Mumbai Central Prison (Marathi: मुंबई मध्यवर्ती कारागृह), was built in 1926, and is Mumbai's largest and oldest prison. It houses most of the city's prisoners. It was upgraded in 1994 to become a Central Prison and given its current official name, but it is still popularly referred to as Arthur Road Jail. The jail occupies 2 acres (0.81 ha) of land.
The jail is located near Sat Rasta (Seven Roads), between the Mahalaxmi and Chinchpokli railway stations in the southern part of the city. It is now surrounded by residential property renting for Rs 12-25,000/sq foot, while commercial property is leased for Rs 30-60,000/sq foot. A monorail is being built nearby.
Space is at a premium inside. The jail was originally built to accommodate 800 prisoners but the average number of inmates is 2000—far exceeding its capacity in terms of space, sanitation and other facilities. Around 180 prisoners are crammed in a cell designed to house 50 and prisoners are forced to sleep in awkward positions.
A few decades ago, this prison was one of the most feared in India, because of the treatment prisoners received from the inmate overseers. The cells were overcrowded and the prisoners had to sleep on blankets infested with lice.
Incarcerated members of crime syndicates who are able to bribe guards and officers are able to live a more comfortable lifestyle. For those who belonged to powerful gangs, it was easy to control underworld activities from within the jail by mobile phone. However, a newly installed jammer (to block out mobile signals) may have put an end to that.
The prison features in Gregory David Roberts' award-winning book Shantaram, which details his life on the run and his time spent in Mumbai, including a stint in Arthur Road. Several scenes in Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers take place in the facility.
- Mustafa Plumber & Manish K Pathak (19 April 2011). "Time to free Mumbai of its overcrowded prison?". DNA India. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
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