In a daring operation, unidentified men on Wednesday freed from custody two Sri Lankan nationals accused of drug smuggling by sprinkling chilli powder on police escorts while travelling by a bus.
According to a top official, two policemen were bringing four prisoners -- three "hardcore drug smugglers" and a criminal case accused -- back to the Central prison here after attending a hearing in Pudukottai Court when the incident took place at Kalamanur.
Unidentified "rescuers", numbering about four or five, travelling in the guise of passengers, sprinkled chilli powder and immobilised the policemen. Then one of the gang members, at knife point, forced the driver of the bus to stop the vehicle near a Railway crossing gate at Kalamanur.
While two accused, identified as Imtiaz Mohammed and Selvakumar, managed to escape on a waiting car, the third was caught by fellow passengers. The whereabouts of Sait, the criminal case accused, was not known, the official, who wished not to be named, said.
Inspector General Jaffer Sait visited the spot immediately and ordered suspension of the escorting policemen and two of his seniors for being negligent in providing escort and sending only two escort personnel to escort two hard-core smugglers-cum-criminals respectively.