Jaipur, April 6
In what seemed like a scene out of a Bollywood flick, 16 prisoners escaped from Phalodi jail in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district on Monday night by putting chilli power in the prison staff's eyes.
The prisoners then proceeded to make a daring escape in a Scorpio that had been parked strategically, right outside prison premises.
DG Jail Rajeev Dasot reached Phalodi and told IANS said that four staff members have been suspended with immediate effect and the investigation handed over to deputy IG Surendra Singh Shekhawat.
Police officials, meanwhile, informed IANS that barricades had been put on roads leading to the surrounding districts -- Barmer, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Nagaur -- soon after the jail-break.
However, there was no clue of the prisoners till the time of filing this report.
Police sources said that the prisoners who escaped were smugglers and were well-acquainted with the rural landscape and hence, might have taken routes in the countryside.
This seems to be the second biggest jail break of the state. In February 2010, 23 prisoners had escaped from the District Jail in Chittorgarh.
Officials scrutinising CCTV footage at Phalodi jail said it appeared that this jail break had been meticulously planned.
The police are interrogating the guards posted in the prison. CCTV footage from the road leading to the jail is also being examined.
The footage indicates that the prisoners were often roaming in the open space next to the barracks during the day hours. Later in the evening, they were being put in the barracks.
During the escape, the prisoners first pushed the constable unlocking the gate. They went on to overpower the caretaker and a guard standing next to him. They then threw a chilli and vegetable solution in the eyes of the guard. Next, they pushed the female guard aside and escaped.
Jodhpur MP and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has criticised the state government over the escape and said: "The security in prisons appears to be deteriorating along with the law and order in the state. Thankfully, the government does not have responsibility of governing the borders connected with our neighbouring country, otherwise the Rajasthan government would have topped the world in that failure as well." It needs to be mentioned here that the Rajasthan police had recently launched Operation Flush Out in which phones and SIM cards were seized from prisoners. Also, more than 100 police officers were suspended for their alleged proximity to prisoners.
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