Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Maoist plan: Get jailed and break out : Pointer to more escape plots


The inmates who did not flee Dantewada jail on Sunday. (PTI)

Raipur, Dec. 17: Sunday’s Dantewada jailbreak could be repeated in other prisons too, intelligence agencies have warned, saying the getaway plan was part of the strategy finalised at a Maoist convention early this year.

“At the ninth congress of the CPI (Maoist) held early this year, the rebels devised the strategy to send cadres inside jails and hatch jailbreak plots with other inmates,” a top intelligence official told The Telegraph.

The jailbreak that freed 299 inmates, including 100 Maoists, was not the brainchild of the local guerrilla leadership but part of a bigger plan the Maoists might execute in other places also, officials said.

The CPI (Maoist) congress was held in January-February in the forests along the Jharkhand-Orissa border. The convention, held after a gap of 36 years, had passed a resolution in which the rebels pledged to intensify their activities by experimenting new strategies. Jailbreaks are believed to be part of that plan.

Dantewada police had arrested Sudhir Kumar alias Sujith, the Maoist who led the charge last evening, nine months ago. The 25-year-old, a deputy commander of the outfit, was kept in the high-security Jagdalpur jail earlier but was shifted to Dantewada five months ago. Charged in a series of cases, including that of murder, he faced maximum punishment if his trial in a local court had been completed.

According to the intelligence official, Dantewada jail authorities failed to keep an eye on Sudhir’s movements, giving him the chance to work on the plan.

Sudhir was even given the charge of running the jail kitchen and serving food — part of the tasks prisoners are assigned — along with 11 other inmates with Maoist links.

Sudhir preached Maoism and garnered the support of several inmates. “He was working as a leader. He used to distribute medicines,” a senior police official said. But even as he consolidated his position among inmates, the jail authorities looked the other way, the official added.

Having taken the inmates into confidence, Sudhir reportedly revealed the jailbreak plan to them, the official said without revealing his source of information.

Jail officer held

B.S. Mankar, the superintendent of the jail, has been arrested and his house raided as part of the usual chain of events that follow jailbreaks.

The Chhattisgarh government has also suspended deputy inspector-general (prisons) P. D. Verma. The police are not ruling out the involvement of jail staff in the jailbreak. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

Chief minister Raman Singh ordered the suspension, saying prima facie Verma had not done his duties, such as monitoring jail security to plug loopholes, properly.

The action came even as Bastar inspector-general R. K. Vij said four of the inmates who fled last evening had been arrested. The search for rest of the 295 was under way.

Dantewada police chief Rahul Sharma said the squad scouring the nearby jungles for those on the run had to move with caution because of landmines and booby-traps that might have been laid by the rebels.

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