At least two staffers, including a high-ranking official of the Bhopal Central Jail, and two convicts are reportedly being investigated for their possible role in the jailbreak staged by eight SIMI operatives in the wee hours of October 31.
Sources privy to the investigations told HT the official, who is still serving in the Bhopal jail, was suspected to be the “main facilitator” of the SIMI men. “He was the sole official, who used to be very friendly with the SIMI inmates,” a source involved in the investigations said.
Local police, who are investigating the jailbreak, put the quartet under the radar because of a growing suspicion of an insider hand.
The high-ranking official allegedly prevented other jail guards from “acting tough” against the operatives. “The official concerned, instead of keeping a strict vigil on the SIMI men, used to keep a tab on the jail staffers to stop them from being strict with the operatives,” the source said.
The eight activists of the outlawed outfit were gunned down by the police in an alleged encounter at a hillock at Manikhedi on the outskirts of Bhopal, hours after they escaped from the high-security prison killing head constable Ramashankar Yadav.
Preliminary investigations also revealed that the eight made duplicate keys to unlock their cells using toothbrush handles, which they moulded in fire lighted with the help of chapatis they had set aside from their daily feeds and dried them to use as fuel. They reportedly scaled the prison walls using bed sheets knotted together as a ladder.
Role of the jail official came under the scanner of the investigators for “never allowing” prison guards to check the items SIMI men’s visitors used to bring for them, the source said.
Further, the official also allowed operatives to meet their visitors in his office instead of a designated place for such meeting, the source added.
“While other inmates were never allowed to meet visitors for more than 15 minutes, the official allowed the SIMI under trials to be with their visitors sometimes for even two hours. During those meetings visitors used to stand inside the office of the jail official, while the inmate stood outside with only a window separating them,” the source said.
Another mid-level jail official was also questioned in connection with the jailbreak, another source confided to HT, adding the official was responsible for maintaining the duty register of the jail guards.
HT had earlier reported that the slain head constable was not supposed to be on duty on that fateful night. This was also confirmed by his daughter Sonia Yadav who said she knew her father was on a day shift on that day, but suddenly due to some “unknown reasons” he was shifted on night duty.
The investigators were also interrogating two convicts who were asked to keep an eye on the SIMI men as their “overseers-cum barber” according to the source.
The two, serving long jail terms, were well aware of the topography of the jail and used to interact with the operatives while visiting latters’ cells to give them a haircut or a shave.