<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sensational jailbreak, chief of Khalistan Liberation Front militant outfit Harminder Mintoo escaped on Sunday along with five other prisoners after armed men in police uniform stormed the high-security Nabha prison in Patiala, exposing “lapses” and raising doubts of possible collusion of insiders, with the Centre seeking an immediate report.Punjab DGP Suresh Arora said that “the unidentified assailants came in police fatigues and were carrying small firearms.” He said that they told police personnel deployed on jail premises that they were bringing a prisoner. “Later, they fired indiscriminately and fled with six criminals, including a terrorist,” he said, adding over 35 rounds were fire and there was no casualty among the jail personnel, who were allegedly taken offguard and did not offer any strong resistance.”The firing was also done from inside the jail. We will see why the firing was not effective,” the DGP said and added there is a “conspiracy somewhere”. “Had there been effective firing, it would have been the other way round,” he said.
ALSO READ Punjab jailbreak: Accused arrested, two suspicious cars impoundedPunjab government sacked two senior prison officials, Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent, suspended ADGP (Jails) and formed an SIT to probe the jail break. It ordered a separate inquiry committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu to look into the “security lapses”. “There are two aspects. One is that the jailbreak will be probed and the second thing is lapses. Who is responsible, if there is any connivance?” the DGP said.Those who escaped from the high-security prison included hardcore Khalistani militant Mintoo, who was arrested by Punjab police in November 2014 after he was deported from Thailand and was wanted in 10 terror cases. Meanwhile, a woman, who was in an SHO’s vehicle, died after being hit by a bullet when the police opened fire at her vehicle after it jumped a barrier about 20 km away from the prison. The incident occurred at a ‘naka’ on Patiala-Gulha Cheeka road, police said.
ALSO READ Punjab jailbreak: Khalistani terrorist escapes, high alert in Northern statesAfter the jailbreak, security agencies in northern states were sent into high alert and Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He sought an immediate report on the incident, besides directing the state to step up security in jails.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal who apprised him of the details of the incident and steps being taken to apprehend the six absconders. Sukhbir said Pakistan could be behind the incident as it was desperate to revive terrorism in the state post-surgical strike across LoC and vowed that the “conspiracy” will be unravelled soon.
ALSO READ Punjab jailbreak: Kejriwal demands Deputy CM Sukhbir’s resignationThe others who fled were gangster Vicky Gaundar, Amandeep Dhotian, Gurpreet Sekhon, Nita Deol and Kashmira Singh, who is also a terrorist. The DGP said that the prisoners had fled towards Haryana. Punjab government has announced a reward of Rs 25 lakh for any person who provides information leading to the arrest of the under-trial prisoners. With Punjab going to polls early next year, the opposition Congress said the incident exposed the “complete breakdown of law and order” in the state and triggered fears of revival of terrorism ahead of Assembly elections. Mintoo was arrested in 10 cases including the 2008 attack on Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and recovery of explosives at Halwara Air Force Station in 2010. A high alert has been sounded in Punjab and Haryana after the incident with security around railway stations, airports, inter-state bus terminuses and other places of key importance stepped up.The CM held a meeting with top brass including State Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal following the incident. A manhunt has been launched to trace the prisoners who escaped, Sukhbir Badal, who also holds the home portfolio, said and added that a special task force has been formed to track them.The Deputy CM said a special investigation team under an ADGP rank officer has also been constituted which shall look into lapses as well as any conspiracy theories surrounding the jail break incident. “Special Investigation team has been asked to submit report within three days in this regard,” he said.The Home Secretary has also been asked to submit a report. “Home Secretary will give me a report on wherever any lapse has taken place. Whosoever will be found responsible in this incident, strict action will be taken against him,” he said.Prabodh Kumar, Additional Director General of Police, Internal Vigilance Cell shall head the SIT comprising Paramraj Singh, IGP/Patiala Zone, Ishwar Singh, IGP, Nilabh Kishore, IGP/Counter Intelligence, Amar Singh Chahal, DIG/Patiala Range and Gurmeet Chouhan, SSP/Patiala.He said the red alert has been issued throughout the state and security at all jails has been furthered tightened. However, Deputy CM said that there was no need to worry adding, “they (prisoners) will not be allowed to run away. Police is after them. We will catch them soon.” Sukhbir had rushed to Nabha jail after the incident, an official spokesman said.ADGP (Jails) MK Tiwari has been placed under suspension, the spokesman said adding that the government has dismissed both the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent of High Security Nabha Jail with immediate effect. Meanwhile, ADGP (Railways) Rohit Chaudhary has been posted as new ADGP (Jails) and S Bhupati, an IPS officer has been appointed as the Superintendent of Nabha High Security Jail. Sukhbir also summoned jail minister Sohan Singh Thandale, officials said.The jailbreak incident triggered sharp reactions from the opposition with Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh alleging connivance of the Badal government in the “brazen daylight” jailbreak. The “shocking manner” in which the gangsters walked into the high-security jail and freed a dreaded Khalistani terrorist along with other convicts clearly shows complicity at the highest levels, he told reporters during the second day of the his road show in Sangrur.Amarinder said the law and order situation in the state had “deteriorated to unprecedented levels” under the Badal regime, especially in the run-up to the Assembly polls. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal demanded the resignation of Sukhbir. “Punjab Home minister shud immediately resign taking responsibility of jail break and killing of innocent girl by Punjab police,” Kejriwal said in his tweet. AAP spokesman and in-charge of party’s affairs in Punjab, Sanjay Singh demanded resignation of Sukhbir and Jail Minister Sohan Singh Thandal. Meanwhile, an eyewitness said that he saw two vehicles outside the prison and some people coming out from inside while firing. “After firing, they tried to flee in their vehicles. One of them threw a quilt near the gate after taking out weapons wrapped in it. They fled while firing,” the youth said. “They were carrying a large number of weapons. As they were not changing magazines, so obviously there were a number of weapons. Three to four people were in police uniforms. “One of them was in sub-inspector’s uniform. They returned from a railway crossing that is around one kilometre from here kept on firing before escaping finally,” he said.