Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hunt on for escaped Maoists in jungles

Vinay Kumar

Centre concerned over jailbreak

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the daring jailbreak in Dantewada district, the Centre on Monday asked the Chhattisgarh government to pay special attention to tightening security in jails.

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to Director-General of Police Vishwa Ranjan after the incident on Sunday, and pointed out that the Home Ministry had been advising the State governments to step up security and surveillance in and around jails.

The issue of further tightening the security arrangements in and around jails had also been discussed in meetings of the Task Force on Naxalism, the Home Ministry spokesman said. Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal met Ministry officials connected with the anti-naxalite operations.

DIG suspended

The State government suspended DIG (Jails) P.D. Verma and arrested Jail Superintendent B. S. Mankar amid reports that the prison staff in Dantewada could be involved in the escape of 300 inmates. It was the biggest jailbreak in recent times, coming two years after the Jehanabad jailbreak in Bihar, where Maoist cadres attacked the prison and freed some 130 inmates.

The Chhattisgarh government also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, in which 105 naxal activists fled. A massive manhunt has been launched by security personnel in jungles.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered Mr. Verma's suspension, saying prima facie it appeared he had not done his duties properly. According to Dantewada Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma, police personnel were moving about cautiously as they suspected landmines could have been planted by Maoists. The jail in Dantewada, about 400 km from Raipur, had 383 inmates when the "pre-planned" action took place.

State Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, who reviewed the situation after visiting the jail, said that if any personnel were found to be involved they would not only be terminated from service but also arrested and tried in a court of law.

The Hindu

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