Three inmates lodged in Gurdaspur Central Jail escaped in the wee hours of Thursady by cutting the bathroom grill and scaling the outer wall of the prison.
Gurdaspur jail superintendent Shammi Kumar said five inmates had escaped, but two of them were apprehended.
The three Bikramjit Singh alias Bikki, Baljit Singh alias Ghulla and Manga Masih were involved in dacoity cases and were taken on Wednesday from Gurdaspur Jail to Phagwara for their appearance before a local court.
They had returned in a police van at about 7.30pm on Wednesday.
As per preliminary inquiry, there could have been a lapse in their security check as all three probably carried sharp edged blades with which they cut the bathroom grills and managed to escape around 2.30am with the help of their accomplices waiting outside the jail, Kumar said.
They scaled the wall with the help of a rope.
He said while three inmates managed to escape in the dark of the night, two others were nabbed when security personnel opened fire. Efforts were on to trace them.