While the security forces in J&K were kept on the tenterhooks after the discovery of a tunnel in Samba near the Pakistan border, the Punjab Police are on the edge for the simple reason that they are unable to find one.
Since receiving intelligence inputs regarding the presence of a tunnel at the high-security jail in Nabha, where about 50 dreaded militants are lodged, the police have gone into an overdrive, conducting five searches in jail barracks in recent days and another search operation in the adjoining residential areas on Saturday, but the elusive tunnel is yet to be located.
About 2,200 personnel of the Punjab Police have been on the job for the past 48 hours. Unable to find any tunnel in the jail, around 400 police personnel led by SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill conducted a search operation in the residential areas around the jail for four hours, suspecting that the tunnel could have been dug from a house leading to the jail, as seen in the Hollywood film "Bank Job".
Assisted by a dog squad, the police thoroughly searched the fields and other open spaces surrounding the jail with the help of tractors and devices like metal detectors.
After Sukhdev Singh Sukha, a hardcore robber lodged in militants' barrack, managed to escape from police custody while being taken to court, intelligence agencies sounded an alert that the Shingar Cinema blast accused and two other dreaded militants were planning to escape from the jail by digging a tunnel. Sukha, who fled after giving a slip to 24 policemen escorting him, had reportedly told the security forces that a tunnel had been dug in the jail to facilitate the escape of other inmates.
"Since this was the second alert in the past two months, we carried out an extensive search both inside and outside the jail. The probability of digging a tunnel from inside the jail is quite low, but digging one from outside is possible with the help of global positioning system. Keeping this in view, we have searched all the houses within a radius of 500 metres from the jail complex. We have also asked the jail authorities to intensify security," said Gill, who is personally searching the houses in the vicinity.
Gill has asked all residents to give details of the people staying with them on rent. The police suspect that Sukha or his accomplices could have taken a house on rent to dig a tunnel.
Teams of the Punjab Police, SWAT, anti-riot squad and commandoes had carried out an extensive search operation in the jail barracks on August 24, during which mobile phones, contrabands and cash were recovered from the inmates. The police have also closed the jail gymnasium, which was mostly used by militants.
In 2004, some undertrials in the Beant Singh assassination case had escaped from the Burail jail in Chandigarh by digging a tunnel.