The Indian Reserve Battallion (IRB) sub inspector, Dina Moni Singh, who was accompanying the three suspected ISI agents, took 18 hours to report the matter to the local police.
Precious time was lost and the three Pakistanis might have fled Delhi, investigators said. Though the incident took place around 2.30 p.m. on Friday, a case was registered only on Saturday around 8.30 a.m.
“A red alert has been sounded in Delhi and the neighbouring police forces have also been informed,” said Sagarpreet Hooda, Deputy Commissioner of Police (north). “We would be circulating their photographs and are taking all steps to apprehend them.”
A senior police officer, who was part of a team who had arrested the men in 2002, said, “When they had first come to Delhi, the three agents were helped by a Hong Kong-based Indian smuggler. This man had come out of jail then and had provided these three agents an operational base from his house in Khayala in west Delhi.”
The police had arrested the men on October 28, 2000.
The accused were arrested from near a medical store in Qutab Institutional Area in south Delhi. Police said the men had come to deliver the consignment to one of their associates.
A Crime Branch team led by ACP Ravi Shankar and Inspector Suresh Kaushik had arrested eight Pakistani agents, including the three men, in 2000.
“These agents had been sent to India to influx the market with smack brought from Afghanistan. They were also involved in several bomb blasts in Jama Masjid, Ballabgarh, Turkman Gate and some in Jammu and Kashmir,” said the officer.
Police had also recovered a pistol from their possession.
Following their arrest, three FIR’s (866/2000) were registered at Hauz Khas police station. After being produced in court, the accused were sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. “We had also arrested one person from Harsh Vihar in northeast Delhi and four others from Rohtak in Haryana,” the officer said.
Investigators said their Friday’s escape was quite “audacious and dangerous” as they might try to revive their links in the country and engage in anti national activities.
Sources said disciplinary action would be taken against Singh and he would also be interrogated for the security lapse.
Investigations were on.