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Home > News > PTI

Chh'garh jailbreak: Top cops in the line of fire

December 17, 2007 19:48 IST
Last Updated: December 17, 2007 20:57 IST

A day after 300 inmates of the Dantewada prison in Chhattisgarh escaped in a daring jailbreak, which police suspect was facilitated by the prison staff, Jail superintendent B S Mankar was arrested and DIG (Jail) P D Verma placed under suspension on Monday.

The inmates are still at large and 300 police personnel are scouring the jungles near the prison amid threat of landmines and booby traps even as the state government ordered a
magisterial inquiry into Sunday's incident. Of the 300 inmates who fled, 105 were Naxal activists.

According to Bastar IG (Police) Rajinder Kumar Vij, a case was registered against Mankar for allegedly facilitating the escape of the inmates. The house of Mankar, who has already been suspended, was also raided for any incriminating evidence, Vij said.

Besides Vij and Mankar, five guards were also suspended.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered suspension of Verma saying prima facie he had not done his duties properly like constantly monitoring jail security to plug any loopholes.

Moving quickly to fix responsibility after the incident exposed a serious security lapse, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said show cause notices were issued against Vij and Dantewada SP Rahul Sharma to explain why extra security forces were not provided at Dantewada prison despite a request from jail authorities.

Netam also said there were 383 inmates in the prison while it had a capacity to accommodate only 175.

"Without the cooperation of the prison staff such an incident cannot possibly take place in a much planned way and in a limited time," a top police official told PTI after speaking to the inmates and others in Dantewada prison, 375 km from Raipur, the state capital.

The jail had 383 inmates when the apparent pre-planned action took place on Sunday evening while dinner was being served.

"We have some information about the involvement of the prison staff and that is being verified," the official said.

Taking a tough line, Netam, who reviewed the situation after visiting the jail, said if any jail personnel was found involved they will not only be terminated from service but would also be arrested and tried.

Director General of Police Vishwaranjan after a visit to the jail said an incident like a prison break cannot be a smooth affair without the involvement of the jail staff and this is being looked into by authorities. He said 300 armed personnel have been pressed to nab the inmates.

Police sources said the entire approach of the jail staff was 'casual' even a day after the major security lapse.

"The jail had 383 inmates when the incident took place and as of Monday afternoon only 83 inmates, including one convicted and 82 undertrials, are inside the prison whereas the rest 300 inmates, including 105 Naxalites, are still at large," they said.

Netam told PTI, "It was beyond comprehension why Naxal commander Sujit Kumar was given so much freedom by the jail officials for his free movement. It was he who masterminded the jailbreak. Sujit had overpowered a jailguard, snatching his rifle and fired on other guards and then fled."     

The room where the weapons were kept was also not properly secured, said Bastar Range Inspector General of Police Rajinder Kumar Vij, adding the Naxalites were given enough scope to escape.

Some Naxalites were reported to have pinned down a guard and entered the room and took out one INSAS rifle and returned back to the barracks and opened at least five rounds, injuring two guards and one undertrial, he said.

After that the Naxals took the key from the guard without facing any resistance and then opened the main door for all to escape, said Vij quoting a preliminary report. The Naxals also seized one INSAS weapon, two .303 rifles, three muskets and one wireless set.

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