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Rediff.com  » News » Bhopal jailbreak: Who asked Ramashankar Yadav to change his shift?

Bhopal jailbreak: Who asked Ramashankar Yadav to change his shift?

November 18, 2016 05:40 IST

Slain head constable Ramasghankar Yadav, who was due for retirement next FebruarySoniya Yadav, slain policeman Ramashankar Yadav's daughter, reveals to Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore that her father was not supposed to be on duty that fateful night when he was killed in the Bhopal Central Jail.

From left: Shambhunath Yadav, Prabhunath and Soniya outside their home in Bhopal's Sanjiv Nagar

IMAGE: From left: Shambhunath Yadav, Prabhunath and Soniya outside their home in Bhopal's Sanjiv Nagar. Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com

"He (her father Head Constable Ramashankar Yadav) got a call from somebody that evening (October 30) and he had no option but to report for duty," says Soniya Yadav, whose marriage is scheduled for December 9.

Ramashankar Yadav was allegedly murdered by the eight prisoners who escaped the high security Bhopal Central Jail on the night of October 30-31.

The prisoners, allegedly members of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India, were killed in an encounter with the Madhya Pradesh police hours after their escape.

"He was not supposed to do the 2 am to 6 am shift. He was supposed to do the morning shift on October 31," Soniya reveals.

Ramashankar Yadav knew it would be Soniya's last Diwali at home before her wedding and wanted to spend more time with his family.

"He was very happy for me," says Soniya, who studied Bachelor's in Business Administration at the Sant Hirdaram Girls College and also has a BEd degree.

Soniya and her mother Hiramani Yadav were home when they received word about her father's murder in the prison. Her elder brothers, who serve the Indian Army, were posted in Assam and Haryana.

Shambhunath, Yadav's eldest son, a havaldar with the Indian Army's 127 SATA (Artillery) regiment in Assam's North Lakhimpur district, got a call from his uncle who asked him to return home urgently.

"He said, 'Your father is injured in a scuffle inside the jail.' I thought it could be some minor fight between the prisoners and called my mother to find out. I could only hear her and my sister weep. I asked my brother-in-law to find out what the matter was. When he reached home, he called me immediately informing me about my father's death."

Shambhunath was near Guwahati at that time to procure rations for his unit, which is stationed some 250 km away. He rushed and caught a flight to Delhi and traveled from there to Bhopal.

"My elder brother called to inform me about my father's death and I left immediately after informing my officers," says Prabhunath Yadav, who is attached to the Indian Army's 18 Mech Infantry in Hisar, Haryana.

The outer boundary of the Bhopal Central Jail from where the eight SIMI activists escaped on the intervening night of October 30-31. Those who have seen the jail from inside say there are two walls, one, 20-feet high, just outside the barracks where these eight SIMI men were kept, and one bordering the periphery, which is 32-feet high

IMAGE: The outer boundary of the Bhopal Central Jail from where the eight prisoners escaped on the night of October 30-31.
Those who have seen the jail from inside say there are two walls, one, 20 feet high, just outside the prisoners' barracks where these eight prisoner were housed, and one bordering the periphery, which is 32 feet high.

"Usi ki toh sir inquiry ho rahi hai (A departmental inquiry has been ordered to investigate the lax jail security and suggest measures to tighten it)," Havaldar Shambhunath Yadav says, when asked how the eight prisoners could breach the high-security, ISO-certified prison.

"It is absolutely wrong to have such an incident occur inside a high security jail when you know how dangerous the inmates are. We also wonder how these prisoners escaped. What are the lapses in the jail security that helped them escape? These matters should be thoroughly investigated and corrective measures need to be taken to prevent such jail breaks happening again," Havaldar Yadav adds.

"Even CM Sir (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) went to check how these prisoners succeeded. I am sure a thorough inquiry will help breach the gaps in the security of the prison and find out how the breach took place," Havaldar Yadav says.

"Nobody has yet seen the home ground (the jail premises inside the boundary wall) and knows how exactly they escaped. I read and saw reports in newspapers and television about how they climbed the wall after killing my father and gagging another security guard," he adds.

"Only the gagged guard who is alive can throw light on what exactly happened that night," says his younger brother Prabhunath Yadav.

Soniya says her mother is in a state of shock. "She can't speak with anybody about the incident," she adds.

Villagers who were demanding that the state government declare Ramashankar Yadav officially; Toshniwal is standing second from left

IMAGE: Bhopal residents demand that the Madhya Pradesh government declare Head Constable Ramashankar Yadav a martyr. Raghav Toshniwal is standing second from left.

The Yadav home in Sanjiv Nagar is located barely 300 metres from the Bhopal Central Jail, where Ramashankar Yadav was posted outside Block B that housed the eight prisoners who escaped that night.

"Here, you have a person who has given two of his sons to the army and you give him such a difficult task not bothering about his heart operation or his age. Didn't you have others to do night duty and guard a cell that has dreaded terrorists?" asks Raghav Toshniwal, a resident of the area, citing Yadav's medical condition.

"He was about to retire next year (February 2017, Shambhunath says) and his daughter's marriage is scheduled for December 9. He had been beseeching the jail authorities, on health grounds to not give him night shift duty, but nobody listened to him," says Shambhunath's uncle who alerted him about his father's death.

"He had made many applications to the jail authorities," says daughter Soniya. "He provided a medical certificate that said he should not be given night shifts given his heart condition. But nobody listened to his pleas."

"If they had accepted his pleas, he would not be doing night duty on October 31," she adds.

Shambhunath says the family elders will take a decision to postpone or hold his sister's marriage as scheduled on December 9.

The visitors who have gathered at Ramashankar Yadav's home demand that the head constable be declared a martyr by the state government. They also want a road in the area to be named after him and a statue raised in his memory.

Prasanna D Zore / Rediff.com in Bhopal