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Jail Supdt held, DIG suspended
No trace of 293 prisoners who escaped in Chhattisgarh

Jagdalpur, December 17
The daring jailbreak in Dantewada prison claimed its first major victims today with government suspending Chhattisgarh DIG (Jails) P D Verma and the police not ruling out the involvement of prison staff in the escape of 300 inmates.

B S Mankar, the superintendent of the jail, was arrested, police said.

The government also ordered a magisterial inquiry into yesterday’s incident in which 105 Naxal activists were among those who fled as security personnel scoured the jungles near the Dantewada prison.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered suspension of Verma saying prima facie he had not done his duties properly, like constantly monitoring jail security, to plug any loopholes.

A total of 293 prisoners, including Naxalites, who had escaped from the sub-jail at Dantewada district in Maoist infested south Bastar, are still at large, senior police officials said today.

Director general of police (Jails) Sant Kumar Paswan told UNI that five of the absconding prisoners had been arrested, while two others had surrendered before the police.

Meanwhile, a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the circumstances that led to the jail break in one of the worst Naxalite affected districts in the country.

Chief Minister Raman Singh has ordered the suspension of the jailer, and four other staff, pending an inquiry against them.

State home minister Ram Vichar Netam, director general of state police Vishwaranjan and DG (Jails) Sant Kumar Paswan reached Dantewada by helicopter this morning to take stock of the situation.

Dantewada district superintendent of police Rahul Sharma told UNI that the local police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel had begun intensive combing operations in the nearby forests to flush out the absconding Naxalite cadres and their sympathisers. A helicopter was also being used to conduct an aerial search.

Throwing light on the developments, jail department sources said an under-trial Naxalite Sujit Kumar first fired at a jail guard while the prisoners were coming out of their barracks during tea time. Others joined him soon to attack the jail staff and also broke open the doors, enabling more than 300 prisoners to escape.

The rebels also broke open the armoury doors and looted one INSAS rifle and 303 weapons.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh home minister Ram Vichar Netam today admitted that the jail break was the outcome of a ‘failure in internal security’.

“I do not consider it as a Naxalite incident. Its due to a major lapse in internal security,” he told newsmen after visiting the sub-jail.

Asked about the possibility of any of the jail staff’s connivance with the absconding inmates, the minister said an inquiry had already been ordered into the circumstances leading to the incident.

“If anyone is found guilty, we will take strict action against him,” he said adding that six jail staff had already been suspended.

Suspended jailer B S Mankar, who has been arrested in connection with yesterday’s jalibreak, had earlier told newsmen that he had come to know about movements of maoist cadres in the forests close to the sub-jail during the day and the matter had been immediately reported to the police.

However, jail inmates have told newsmen that under trial Sujit Kumar who apparently led the revolt in the jail, was performing the duties of compounder and he enjoyed the freedom to move around inside the jail.

Besides, they also complained that Sujit Kumar and other inmates frequently used mobile phones inside the prison.

Meanwhile, jail department sources claimed that after the Naxalite attack on jail in Jehanabad in Bihar, the union Home Ministry had advised all states concerned to keep Naxalite cadres only in central jails. — Agencies

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MHA seeks report

The union home ministry today sought a detailed report from the Chhattisgarh government on the daring escape by 299 inmates of the state’s Dantewada jail.

“The home ministry has asked for a detailed report and directed the state government to beef up security and surveillance in and around jails in Chhattisgarh,” a MHA spokesman said.

Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to the state police chief about the jailbreak and suggested tighter measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

The jailbreak came barely two days after the meeting of the Naxal Task Force in Bhubaneshwar on December 13 and 14, where the issue of providing more security in jails had figured prominently.

The Naxal-hit states were advised to use night vision devices and make better lighting arrangements in and around jails after the Jehanabad jailbreak in Bihar two years back when 341 prisoners had escaped.

Sources said the state government authorities have been asked to increase manpower in jails and provide better training to jail staff besides installing latest gadgets to keep tabs on jail inmates. — PTI

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High alert in Bihar, Jharkhand jails
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 17
A day after almost 300 jail inmates, along with Naxalites, carried out a desperate jailbreak in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, the Nitish government in Bihar and the Madhu Koda government in Jharkhand have put jails across their states on high alert today.

Sources said the Bihar home department issued directives to all jail superintendents to beef up security. The government did not want to take any chances in the backdrop of the Jehanabad jailbreak when 300 inmates, including 150 Naxalites, had escaped in 2005.

Besides, reports reaching here said the Jharkhand government too had stepped up its security measures because of the close links between Naxalites there and their counterparts in Chhattisgarh.

Public memory was still fresh of the recent killing of 18 civilians, including the younger son of former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi at Giridih. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP Sunil Mahato was also killed by the rebels early this year.

Hundreds of Maoists, including their self-styled commanders, zonal commanders and area commanders were now lodged in different jails of Bihar and Jharkhand.

In Jharkhand, the extremists already had an established network in 18 of the 24 districts. Bihar and Jharkhand governments in the recent past had conducted joint operations in border areas to flush out the Naxals.

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