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Panic as Tihar prisoner goes missing for 8 hrs

Murder convict Mohammed Saleem coolly told authorities he had stepped out and ‘got late’ on his way back.

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2018 01:28 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Panic,Tihar,Jail
Policemen stand guard as an ambulance leaves the main entrance of Tihar Jail in New Delhi. (AFP )

On Sunday evening, prison authorities inside Tihar jail were in a state of panic when an officer from the jail’s semi-open prison complex sent an alert that a prisoner was missing. Lodged in the semi-open jail complex, murder convict Mohammed Saleem was not present during the evening roll call.

For more than eight hours, jail officers frantically checked every corner of the prison complex until Saleem, in his mid-30s, returned at around 1am and apologised for being late. The man coolly told authorities that he had gone to Muzaffarnagar in UP and “got late” on his way back.

Jail officers have transferred Saleem back to the regular prison and ordered an inquiry. Though it could not be confirmed, Saleem is learnt to have told prison guards he stepped out to celebrate Raksha Bandhan.

Semi-open and open jail prisoners at Tihar are not lodged in cells and are allowed to move freely within the prison complex as they are assigned work within different parts of the prison complex. In rare cases, some prisoners from the semi-open jails are allowed to step out briefly for jail work after taking permission from authorities.

Open jail prisoners — there are six such inmates in Tihar — are allowed to step out of prison every morning and go out to work, but they too have to return by 6pm.

Officials said Saleem did not have permission to step out.

A jail spokesperson said they have ordered an inquiry and sent Saleem back to regular prison. “The prisoners should have returned to the semi-open jail by 5pm for the evening roll call. He was assigned work in the prison’s garage. However, he managed to step out. This is not a jail escape. He returned on his own, but because he flouted rules, as a punishment he has been sent back to the regular prison.”

Saleem, a resident of Muzzaffarnagar, UP is serving life imprisonment for murder. Behind bars for over 13 years, the man had a clean record because of which he had been transferred to the semi-open jail.

Prisoners who have displayed good conduct and have completed at least 12 years behind bars are transferred to semi-open jail, which is a building with one room flats without bars or guards. Jail officers said this is the first time any semi open or open jail prisoner has violated rules by not returning to his room on time.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 01:28 IST