A daring jailbreak planned by Ahmedabad serial blasts case accused at the Sabarmati Central Jail was thwarted by prison officials after they uncovered a 18-feet long tunnel dug in their barrack.
The plot for the great escape from barrack No 4 has stunned jail authorities.
An FIR has been lodged against 14 of the serial blasts accused and a probe is going on. The tunnel was discovered late on Sunday.
"We have found a tunnel dug in the barrack where 14 of the serial bomb blasts accused were lodged. We have registered an FIR and investigation is going on," Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail V M Parghi said on Monday.
Sources said that Usman Agarbatti, a civil engineer and one of the 14 accused put up in the barrack, is allegedly the mastermind behind the plan, sources said.
The sources said the plan was to link the tunnek with an underground sewer line that passed beneath the main gate of the jail premises.
The probe has been handed over to the Crime Branch of the Ahmedabad police.
On Sunday night, when jail authorities suspected something amiss in the behaviour of two inmates at barrack number four, they searched it and found the tunnel dug from inside the barrack, said the police.
"Of the 68 accused of the serial bomb blasts case, 14 were lodged in this barrack. We have started a probe about how long the digging was going on, how they were doing it and who else is involved," said Parghi without divulging any further details.
A Crime Branch official said that the igging may have been going on for the past two to three months.
The state home ministry has ordered an enquiry into the incident following a high-level meeting held on Monday morning by Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel.
Pargi said they have not found any tools. The accused may have used dinner plates and wood to dig the tunnel, he said.
"They had volunteered for gardening work around the barrack. Under that cover, they were dumping the sand extracted from the tunnel into the garden outside," said Jail
Inspector General P C Thakur.
On July 26, 2008, twenty near simultaneous bomb blasts across the city had killed 57 people. All the blast accused are lodged in the Sabarmati Central Jail.
"Everyday, they used to get three hours free time to do some work of their choice. They might have used that time to dug the tunnel," Thakur added.
He also claimed that no matter how long the undertrials had dug the tunnel, their escape was impossible as the wall surrounding the barracks are 21 feet high and 20 feet deep.
Thakur ducked queries about how jail authorities could have remained oblivious to the plot.
"Let us first investigate the whole incident," he said.
A battery of high-ranking officers including State Jail Inspector General P C Thakur, Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Himanshu Shukla and other officers from Anti Terrorist Squad, Special Operation Group and Forensic Science Laboratory have been rushed to the jail premises.
Some of the 14 bomb blast accused who were lodged in the barrack are Sajid Mansuri, Yunus Mansuri, Shamshood Shahpurwala, Javed Sheikh, Kadri Juhapurawala, Arif Kadri, Umar Kala, Usman Agarbatti, Kayamuddin and Mufti Abu Bashar.
Additional Principal Sessions Judge Jyotsana Yagnik, who is conducting the trial of the serial bomb blast case, also visited the jail premises on Monday morning.
The trial of the serial blasts case is being conducted inside Sabarmati Central Jail, as the state government has invoked Section 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code against all the accused in the case, restricting their movement.
More then 35 FIRs have been filed and nearly 24 accused are still absconding, including Riyaz Bhatkal and Mufti Sufiyan Patangia.