As news of another accused escaping from police custody started to do the rounds, the Mumbai police quickly sprang into action to clear the mix-up.
Swati Sathe, deputy inspector general, prisons, hurriedly conducted a press conference outside the Thane Jail on Thursday, to clarify that Siraj Rehman Khan, one of the accused in the Shakti Mill gangrape case, was still in Thane Central jail.
“Rehman is neither missing nor absconding. He is currently lodged in Thane jail. He was not produced in the court because of technicalities,” said Sathe.
On Thursday, three accused — Vijay Jadhav, Salim Ansari and Kasim Bengali — were produced in session court.
When principal sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi asked why the fourth accused wasn’t produced, the Thane jail officials said they had handed Khan over to the crime branch for further investigation.
However, public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam refuted this, claiming that Shaikh was “untraceable”.
While Sathe refused to give a direct answer why Khan was not produced in court despite the court issuing a production warrant, sources from the Thane jail said it was because of shortage of police personnel.
However, when questioned, Sathe claimed there was no shortage of manpower at the jail.
The judge has summoned the jail superintendent on Friday for an explanation.
This is the second slip by the Mumbai Police in a week, after an Indian Mujahideen operative escaped from the sessions court, causing a large-scale manhunt.