Following three decades of years of service as a jailor, Sadanand Gaikwad retired as the Superintendent of Byculla District Jail on 30 April 2021. A low-key retirement ceremony was held at the Byculla Jail commemorating his lifetime of service within the state’s prison system. Prison authorities showered flowers upon the former Superintendent during what has been described by all accounts as an “emotional and befitting” farewell. Many of his colleagues were seen teary eyed at the ceremony.
Those who intimately worked with Gaikwad describe him as a highly disciplined, conscientious, and hardworking jailer of the Maharashtra correctional system. It was during his retirement that it was learnt that he had spent some time as a police officer before his decorated career as a prison official. This correspondent highlights his journey as a Jailer, who is fondly remembered as having inspired many and changed the lives of many prisoners.
Gaikwad with a combination of his imposing physique, playful nature, and eloquence, left a lasting impression on the minds of those he worked with, this includes everyone from prison officers, prison superintendents to senior officers and staff in his 30-year long career. Gaikwad has worked in some of the most sensitive prisons in the state of Maharashtra such as the Yerwada Central Prison which is touted to be the largest jail in the state, the Taloja Central Jail, the Kolhapur Central Jail, and the Central Jail Mumbai (Arthur Road).
Face to face with forces of evil
It was during these assignments that he came across some of the most dreaded figures within the Mumbai underworld, high-profile terrorists, and other notorious criminals who made headlines conducting nefarious activities. Some names which standout to him, when recounting his career are the infamous Arun Gawli, Abu Salem, K Rao, Mustafa Dosa and Ajmal Kasab. High-profile individuals from Bollywood such as Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan are also among those, he vividly remembers having served sentences under his supervision. His former colleagues recount that his personality and presence had created a sense of both fear and obedience amongst the incarcerated.
Some standout moments from his career
Erstwhile Director General of Police, Maharashtra Prisons, Mira Borwankar, had specifically canceled a regular appointment and had Gaikwad immediately transferred to the Taloja Central Jail. An appointment he is reported to have excelled at. Gaikwad, with his unique style, is reported to have significantly improved the atmosphere in Taloja Jail in just eight short days. Another memorable moment he recalls from his career was when he was on special duty at Arthur Road Jail, where he had interacted with 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab, while serving as chief internal security officer for two years.
While working as a superintendent at the Byculla District Jail and the Mumbai District Women’s Jail, Gaikwad was responsible for handling male inmates as well as Indrayani Mukherjee and three to four hundred other female inmates in the women’s jail. He is said to have worked to promote the talents of women prisoners and their young children in various social activities as well as to give them a new direction for their future lives by discouraging them from crime in the future. And as a result of his efforts, one female inmate, affectionately called him ‘Pappa’ a word used to refer to a father figure.
Gaikwad had reportedly sent 40 to 50 women inmates to the COVID-19 Center housed within the same jail following the scourge of the Coronavirus pandemic. He also is said to have sought immediate medical treatment and reassured other frightened women prisoners.
He bid farewell to his colleagues and a lifetime of service in Maharashtra’s prison system during his retirement ceremony and is beginning a new chapter in his “illustrious life.”