New Delhi: Accepting that the Nabha Central Jail incident was result of a conspiracy as well as security lapses, Director General of Punjab Police Suresh Arora on Sunday said five criminals came in a car and told santari (guardsman) that they want to handover a prisoner. “Following which the santari (guardsman) opened the gate and the criminals, who were carrying small arms, overpowered the santaris and as a result six prisoners, four known criminals and two terrorists, were able to escape,” said the DGP, divulging details of the jailbreak.
“Their names are Harvinder Mintoo and Kashmir Singh (both terrorists), and gangsters Gurpreet Sekhon, Vicky Gonder, Amandeep Dhotia and Neeta Deol,” he said.
Asked why did the santari open the gate so quickly, the DGP said, “There are two aspects of it: one, they escaped, and the second, what were the lapses and who are responsible for those lapses; is there any connivance, we will clear these things soon.”
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When asked when the criminals fired 100 rounds, why did not security guards respond, he said, “Not 100 rounds; we have found around 30-35 rounds. Though the security guards responded to the firing, it was ineffective, which will be probed into.”
Answering a question that if police suspect a conspiracy, the DGP said, “If you say that it’s not a part of conspiracy, then it will be wrong. There is a conspiracy, which we have to unearth. In such a cases, there are also roles of insiders.”
He said Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who visited the Nabha jail to take on the spot stock of the jailbreak, told them to arrest the escapees and fix responsibility of the incident. “Being a Home Minister his directions are very clear arrest the escapees, fix responsibility of the incident, and to prevent such incidents from reoccurrence by enhancing jails’ security.”
When asked could Pakistan be behind the incident, he said, “As a police officer I will not comment on this. It is too early for me.”
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal held a high-level meeting of the civil and police administration, including intelligence officials, in the morning to review the situation. The state government has announced a reward of Rs 25 lakh to any person providing information leading to the arrest of these six escaped under trial prisoners.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed by the Punjab Police to investigate the escape of six under-trials. Additional Director General of Police, Internal Vigilance Cell, Prabodh Kumar would head the SIT comprising IGP, Patiala Zone, Paramraj Singh; IGP Ishwar Singh; IGP, Counter Intelligence, Nilabh Kishore; DIG, Patiala Range, Amar Singh Chahal; and Patiala SSP Gurmeet Chouhan.
At the same time, a massive manhunt has been launched to nab the escaped prisoners, and all districts have been alerted to lay nakas (barricades) and conduct mobile patrolling to nab the escapees. Meanwhile, the statement said, the state government took a series of administrative steps and a red alert has been sounded throughout the state, besides, tightening security apparatus at all jails.
Both the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent of the Nabha jail have been dismissed with immediate effect, following the incident. The state government has also ordered the constitution of an inquiry committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu to look into the security lapses that led to the jailbreak. ADGP (Railways) Rohit Chaudhary has been posted as new ADGP (Jails) in place of MK Tiwari, who has been placed under suspension, and S Bhupati as the Superintendent of Nabha High Security Jail.