Three prisoners including rape accused escape from Amritsar Central Jail, 7 officials suspended

THREE PRISONERS including a man accused of raping a minor escaped from the high-security Amritsar Central Jail on Saturday night. Seven jail officials were suspended over the breach.

The prisoners, all undertrials, were identified as brothers Gurpreet, 34, and Jarnail Singh, 25, of Khadoor Sahib in Tarn Taran, who had been arrested for snatching and dacoity, and Vishal of Amritsar, arrested for raping a minor girl.

According to the FIR registered, the three first made a hole in their barrack wall, allegedly using an iron rod with a sharp edge to remove the bricks. They then climbed over each other’s shoulders to jump over a 16-ft wall. They then used the iron hook and covers of a quilt to scale a 21-ft wall, targeting parts of the wall where the iron fencing was broken.

At the time of filing this report, police were yet to catch the three.

CCTV cameras of the prison showed that the hole in the barrack wall was created at 1.30 am. However, authorities came to know about the escape only at 3.20 am.

“They finally escaped the jail complex from a point near Tower No. 10, which was not under the CCTV cover,” DGP Dinkar Gupta said in an official statement in Chandigarh.

The DGP said there was no evidence of any outside help, according to preliminary investigations, which suggests that the trio, among 61 prisoners in Barrack No. 7, Ahata No. 2, had planned their escape on their own.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered a magisterial inquiry, which will be led by the Divisional Commissioner, Jalandhar. Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa suspended Assistant jail superintendents Parshotam Lal and Gian Singh, wardens Subeg Singh, Kulwant Singh, Dhir Singh and Samsher Singh, and a Punjab home guard Kashmir Singh after the incident.

ADGP (Jails) P K Sinha said, “The security of the jail was being reviewed at the micro level. Gross negligence in the security system was also found.”

He said the Amritsar Central Jail has around 3,200 inmates against the capacity of 2,700.

Along with high-profile drug smugglers and gangsters, Pakistani nationals are kept at the Amritsar jail. Prisoners were shifted to the new building of the prison in 2016. The central reserve force was deployed for security of the jail in November 2019.

Reacting to the development, the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded an immediate dismissal of the Punjab jails minister besides a probe by a sitting judge of the High Court.

Asking the chief minister to fix accountability at the very top, former Punjab minister Daljit Singh Cheema said the “jails minister should be asked to resign immediately till the pendency of the probe” and the government should tell why the jail administration has “collapsed”.