Bihar’s Ara jail was Lambu Sharma’s second home, preschool and vocational training institute — the high walls providing perfect cover and safety to learn the art of making bombs and pulling off daring robberies.
The teachers were senior, seasoned criminals lodged there for heinous crimes, making Sachidanand Sharma alias Lambu a slippery, “most wanted” criminal at 23.
Till his arrest by Delhi Police’s special cell in the city on Tuesday night, Lambu was involved in several cases of robbery, kidnapping, murder and had successfully escaped from Ara jail three times in the past 12 years.
He is the main accused in the bomb blast at Ara district court on January 23, 2015, that killed two policemen and wounded 16 people.
A prodigy of Bharat Saxena, a jailed Maoist known for his bomb-making skills, Lambu had carried out blasts on court premises twice, an officer said.
Lambu’s voyage in crime started in 2004 when he was 12 and was imprisoned for allegedly murdering a man who was posing an obstacle to his love affair.
He was sent to the juvenile home in Ara that shared a compound with the jail housing adult criminals. “He used to move around the jail and soon got acquainted with criminals such as Chand Miyan, an extortionist,” the officer said.
After 14 months, Lambu fled and joined a gang involved in a spate of robberies. He was arrested and jailed again in 2005.
This jail stint proved very productive for him as he came in contact with Saxena, who taught him the basics of making IEDs with switches, wires, bulbs and batteries smuggled into the jail.
Soon, Saxena started teaching him to make sophisticated bombs, some of which he supplied outside the jail, the officer said. “In 2009, Lambu escaped from custody to kill Jitender Singh, a witness in the 2004 murder case against him. He and an associate triggered a blast inside the court. The bomb exploded before it could be lobbed and he lost his associate in the process.”
He was re-arrested the same year and sent to Ara jail for the third time, where he befriended a woman whom he used as a suicide bomber on January 23 this year, the day his case was heard at Ara court.
“He told his friend to carry a gadget and press a switch to click his picture. The moment she pressed the button, the bomb exploded. Lambu managed to escape,” the officer said.