Assistant superintendent Bhim Singh and head warder Jagmeet Singh of the Nabha Maximum Security Prison — from where Khalistani militant Harminder Singh Mintoo and five other dreaded criminals escaped on Sunday — were formally arrested on Tuesday. Tejinder Sharma, owner of a sweetshop just outside the jail, has also been held along with two officials, who were in detention since the escape.
Claiming clinching evidence against them, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurmeet Singh Chauhan said transactions showing Bhim Singh having got money for his collusion have come to the fore. Bhim Singh, who was on night duty before the 9am escape, had held a “detailed meeting” with the escapees an hour and a half before a group of armed men attacked the jail and took away the men. It was Bhim who helped the inmates come near the lobby area from where they got a pistol handed to them by the attackers and took a security guard hostage, it is alleged.
“In fact, Bhim Singh also met them a day before the crime. We have traced some phone calls made by escapees to the jailbreak plotters coinciding with the time when Bhim Singh and warder Jagmeet met them.” said the SSP.
‘Unblockable’ 4G: How inmates used Skype, WhatsApp
Warder Jagmeet was the facilitator of phones and internet through which the escapees used Skype and WhatsApp to contact their gangs, the SSP said, adding that involvement of more officials is also suspected as the police have tracked 27 internet-based calls made from the jail. Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief Mintoo, who has since been rearrested, made calls abroad through Skype as the jammers in the jail were not enabled to block 4G signal.
As for Tejinder Sharma, he has been arrested as he used to provide food and other items to the escapees. “Sharma was also hand-in-glove with Jagmeet,” said the SSP.
Sources said that it was through Jagmeet that Bhim Singh came in contact with the escapees including gangster Vicky Gounder, and started providing mobile, food items, and other facilities for money.
Staff did nothing to stop escape: FIR
In all, nine jail officials in the FIR registered on Monday on the basis of a statement by assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Shivdev Singh, who was present in the jail at the time of the incident for some official work. He said that when he heard gunshots and alerted the officials, who didn’t bother to chase the accused and did not even fire a shot.
(with Inputs from Mohit Singla)