Murder convict who tested positive for Covid-19 nabbed after 11-day manhunt in Bengal
The convict had escaped from custody on August 2 while being taken to a Covid-19 hospital.
A murder convict serving a life term who escaped from custody 11-days ago after testing positive for Covid-19 was arrested from a dense forest in Bengal’s Darjeeling district on Thursday after a massive manhunt, police said.
Bhim Rai (53) was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his wife in 2011. He was released on parole from Jalpaiguri central jail on July 24. After he showed symptoms, residents of the remote Lodhama village insisted that he undergo a Covid-19 test. The result on July 31 said he tested positive.
He fled while being taken to a Covid hospital on the evening of August 2.
A massive search operation was carried out by the West Bengal police and its counter insurgency force (CIF) and the forest department. Police used sniffer dogs and sought assistance from local people. The search was conducted in a 15 sq km dense forest in the Senchal wildlife west range.
On Thursday morning, Rai was first spotted by a taxi driver in the Jorebungalow police station area. He informed the police and local residents.
Though Rai was spotted by local people many times during the day in and around the Rangaroon forest no one dared to catch him as he had tested positive.
A police constable involved in the search operation said, “Every time local youths went near him Rai pelted stones and escaped. He was running faster than the local youths.”
“How can a Covid-19 patient, who was on the run for 11 days, could remain so strong? We were taken aback,” he added.
Mingma Lepcha, officer in-charge of Jorebungalow police station, said, “Rai was finally caught in the evening from the Rangaroon forest range.”
Teams of CIF, police and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) dog squads, forest personnel, civil volunteers and local people got involved in the manhunt.
Abhi Tamang, a local resident who was among the three youths who first reached near Rai, said “He was running faster than us and was pelting stones. He told us to go home.”
Some officials said a shortage of PPEs delayed the operation. Only a handful of people were wearing PPEs.
Rai was sent to Darjeeling district hospital for checkup. Those who nabbed him would be tested too.