RANCHI: Two Naxalites were killed and three were critically injured in police firing while 15 managed to escape in a major jailbreak in West Singhbhum district on Tuesday evening. The police opened fire at 20 undertrails when they tried to escape from Chaibasa divisional jail campus, 150km from here, while a group of prisoners, who had been taken out for production in a local court, were being put back into the jail.
Jail IG Shailendra Bhushan said: “Two prisoners have been shot dead and three critically injured while 15 of them managed to escape. 55 prisoners had been taken to the court in a police van in the morning and escorted back to the jail campus in the same van. While being put back into the jail, they managed to escape. It is not yet known whose faults led to the prisoners’ escape. A probe will be conducted.”
All the exit points in the district have been sealed and a manhunt launched to nab the escaping prisoners. No escaped prisoner has been found as yet. The state government has sounded high alert at all central and divisional jails in the state.
The killed prisoners are hardcore Maoist Tipa Das and Ram Vilas Tati. Police have ruled out involvement of Maoists in the incident as the prisoners escaped from inside the jail campus.
The injured have been taken to local hospital for treatment. All the 15 escaped prisoners include hardcore Maoists, and undertrails facing grave criminal charges. “The profiles of the prisoners can be known only after verification. It is a mixed group involving Maoists and criminals,” said Kolhan DIG Md Nehal.
A source said the van entered into the campus and parked near the main entrance gate of the jail (the main jail campus within the jail boundary wall where prisoners stay) and police asked prisoners to come out one by one go back inside the main jail. “35 of them went inside. A few of them remaining prisoners tried to escape by manhandling the cops escorting them. After it all of them ran out,” said Bhushan.
DGP Rajiv Kumar said all those who escaped were hardcore criminals and police is trying to nab them. “All police stations in West Singhbhum and neighboring districts have been put on high alert. Bus stands and railway stations are also on high alert,” said Kumar who has ordered a probe.
“The profiles of the prisoners can be known only after verification. It is a mixed group involving Maoists and criminals,” said Nehal.
A total of 55 prisoners had been taken to the court in a police van in the morning and escorted back to the jail campus in the same van. The van entered into the jail campus and prisoners were being put back inside the jail when 35 of the prisoners went inside the jail and few of them reportedly threw chilly power in the eyes of the policemen escorting them and escaped. Sources said the gate of the jail was open in possible connivance with jail guards.
“Prima facie the incident seems to have taken place due to carelessness on the part of the jail authorities,” said a police officer.