From cosy comfort to claustrophobic cell, Rajus fall from grace

January 12th, 2009 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramalinga RajuHyderabad, Jan 12 (IANS) From the cosy environs of their posh bungalows and state-of-the-art offices to the claustrophobic confines of Chanchalguda jail here, life has taken a cruel turn for B. Ramalinga Raju and his brother B. Rama Raju.The famous and the mighty have fallen to the earth. Till just the other day, Ramalinga Raju, the former IT czar who founded Satyam Computer Services and is one of the richest Indians, had all the comforts of the world but today has to accept whatever jail authorities offer him as an ordinary prisoner.

The man who built Satyam into India’s fourth largest IT services firm over the last two decades and ruled like a king has been forced to accept the harsh realities of life in jail. He once shared the dais with the most famous and the richest, including then US president Bill Clinton, and today shares a jail cell with a bootlegger.

Raju, once the brand image of Hyderabad and often described as the ‘Bill Gates of Andhra Pradesh’, seems to have become resigned to his fate in the wake of the Rs.70 billion ($1.43 billion) fraud he admitted to have committed in the company over the years.

It was on Saturday evening that a magistrate sent the brothers to jail on charges of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy. Vadlamani Srinivas, their former colleague and chief financial officer of Satyam, joined them in jail Sunday.

The Raju brothers, who spent Saturday night in the administration barrack along with 26 other remand prisoners, were Sunday shifted to a cell in Old Hospital Barrack where other undertrials for economic, prohibition and excise and dowry harassment offences are lodged. They were asked to share with a bootlegger a mid-size cell, one of the three cells in the barrack.

Jail officials said the Rajus remained aloof throughout Sunday though other prisoners were curious to see them. They did not take interest in reading newspaper or watching television but Ramalinga Raju sought some books. Since the jail library was closed on Sunday, prison authorities said they would be supplied the books on Monday.

Ramalinga Raju refused to take food but agreed after much persuasion by his brother and another high-profile prisoner Venkateshwara Rao, who rushed from the adjacent cell to meet them. The former chairman of Krushi Bank, facing charges of duping bank depositors, tried to boost the morale of Ramalinga Raju and persuade him to accept the realities.

They were served lemon rice and a cup of tea each in the morning. The lunch menu was rice, curry and curd. For supper, they were served rice with chicken as is the jail practice every Sunday.

The Raju brothers did not come out of the cell though the prisoners were allowed to move freely in the enclosure. They slept on the floor of the cell, which has a ceiling fan and bulb, and remained clad in the same clothes which they were wearing at the time of arrest. Their family members will be allowed to give them new clothes as remand prisoners don’t have to wear jail uniforms.

“We will allow their family members to meet them Monday after they get necessary permission,” said jail superintendent K. Newton.

The Rajus purchased toothbrush, toothpaste and some toiletries with the money they had deposited with jail authorities Saturday. The jail staff provided them with a bedsheet, a pillow, a towel, a glass and a jug.

Jail doctors are also constantly monitoring the health of Ramalinga Raju as per the magistrate’s directions. He has high blood pressure and Hepatitis-C while his brother has high blood pressure. He also complained of joint pains and was given medicines for the same.

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