Burail jailbreak: No record calls between Hawara, Chaura

  • Shailee Dogra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2015 01:32 IST
The Model Jail in Chandigarh hit the headlines when the accused in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh escaped after digging a tunnel in 2004. (HT Photo)

Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) chief Jagtar Singh Hawara had made four calls to another BKI terrorist, Narain Singh Chaura, on the night of January 21, 2004, when the four undertrials -Hawara, BKI member Jagtar Singh Tara, BKI (India) operations chief Paramjit Singh Bheora (the three main accused in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh) and Devi Singh, who was facing murder charges -had escaped from Burail jail.

However, despite having this crucial information, the UT police failed to gather evidence to prove that, thus facilitating the acquittal of 14 persons, including jail officials.

Hawara was constantly in touch with Chaura, the alleged main conspirator in the jailbreak case, and investigations had revealed that 10 calls were exchanged between Chaura and Hawara on January 20 and January 21, 2004. The two exchanged three calls on January 21 at 8.18pm, 8.45pm and 9.33pm, while one call was made at 2.18am on January 22. Chaura reportedly contacted Hawara 13 times on telephone between January 12 and January 21, 2004.

As per the police, Hawara was also constantly in touch with another accused Baljit Kaur, who had died during the trial, and had provided all help to the Beant Singh assassins before and after the escape. Between January 12 and January 21, not less than 52 calls were made by Hawara to Baljit Kaur.

The police however failed to prove the allegations in absence of call details. The court in its order said, "This court fails to understand as to what could be the reasons and as to why the call details were not taken and if taken why the same have not been made part of the police report and then proved."

Even the phones recovered were not checked by the police as the court pointed out, "Investigating officer did not try to see whether the mobile phone was operational or not. They also did not check the mobile phone so as to see what calls were received and what numbers were dialed."

Witnesses fail to identify Chaura

The allegations against Chaura who allegedly had snapped electricity supply to the jail did not hold ground as the witnesses failed to identify him. Not just this, police investigations even failed to establish that the electricity supply was actually disrupted before the escape. In his statement generator operator at Burail jail had pointed out tampering of records. He had said that the electricity supply of jail was disrupted on January 20 night and not January 21 as alleged.

The court observed, "Evidence indicate that there has been attempt of investigating officers of backward integration of evidence and to connect it with the accused Narain Singh by creating subsequent disclosure statement and recoveries."

Bheora's disclosure remained unsubstantiated

The disclosure statement of BKI (India) operations chief Paramjeet Singh Behora recorded on March 20, 2006, after his arrest could have nailed the accused, but the prosecution failed to corroborate the same with evidence.

Bheora had claimed that they had conspired to dig a tunnel since 2002. He had stated that Narain Singh Chaura had only been asked to disconnect the electricity supply on the night of escape.
The court in its order said, "This should have been a star document of the prosecution to prove the story of conspiracy. However, it was not proved by any witness."

Loose ends

The police failed to establish how the tunnel was dug, when the jail authorities had found nothing suspicious during an inspection on January 15.
Couldn't establish when did the undertrials escape.
How did the accused dispose of the large quantity of soil.
The police failed to prove that the tunnel was actually dug from inside the cell where the escapees were lodged.

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