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Prisoners flee under rain cover

Berhampur: Ten prisoners escaped from Malkangiri jail on Sunday morning, reports our correspondent.

The inmates took advantage of heavy rain on Saturday night. They cut through the iron rods of their cell window, with the sound of pouring rain suppressing any noise of the bars being cut. They then used pipes to scale the walls of the prison.

The group of fugitives includes Muka Madkami, a Naxalite, Laka Kabasi, a Naxalite supporter, and Kailash Kachim, the leader of a dacoit gang that operated in the southern districts of Orissa as well as in Chhattisgarh. Kachim has more than 40 cases against him in the two states.

The others who escaped, according to Malkangiri police sources, are Sanasahi Khila, Srinibas Khila, Omprakash, Samir Mandal, Hari Macha, Madkami Raju and Nirmal Mistry.

A police platoon has been deployed to hunt for the fugitives.

The jailbreak took place around 6 am, police sources said.

The high garbage dumps near the jail walls may have also helped the prisoners escape, said Malkangiri superintendent of police S. Devdutta Singh.

The district police chief had earlier suggested on improving the lighting around the jail and clearing the garbage dumps but the suggestions were never implemented.

Sources said the fugitives may try to cross over to adjoining Andhra Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, taking jungle routes as a Naxalite is part of the group. The stateís borders are being watched, they said.

Sonia scam stick for minister

Chandigarh: Under pressure from Sonia Gandhi, Amarinder Singh on Sunday sacked his forest minister Harbans Lal who has been indicted in a multi-crore tree-felling scam.

The Punjab chief minister on Sunday sent a letter to governor .P. Verma informing him of his decision to remove Lal from the council of ministers, Congress sources said.

The scam saw a Ropar forest being destroyed to allow a private contractor to make crores of rupees. News of the scam surfaced a few days ago following a departmental inquiry conducted by forest secretary P. Ram.

The probe also indicted the departmentís former secretary, Dharamvir, an IAS officer, for colluding with private contractors and allowing reckless felling of trees.

Lal has been embroiled in controversy since a vigilance probe into unqualified registered medical practitioners doubted the veracity of his ayurveda and unani system of medical registration certificates. Amarinder chose to ignore the allegations at the time.

Ramís inquiry has been referred to the vigilance department which will probe the involvement of the suspects.

Mishap sparks mob fury

Kendrapara (PTI): A mob set a truck ablaze and attacked several other vehicles, including a fire tender, on Sunday after the truck ran over a youth. One person was injured in the rampage, police said.

Traffic on the Paradip-Daitari highway was also paralysed after the people resorted to a road blockade. The youth who was run over died on the spot. The truck driver has been arrested.

Road crash kills 5

Hyderabad (PTI): Five persons were killed and another injured in a road accident about 50 km Warangal. The victims were travelling in a van which was hit by a lorry on the Jangam-Yeshwantpur Road, police said.

Antique idol seized

Dehradun (PTI): Police have seized a 500-year-old idol of Mahavir worth Rs 50 lakh in Udhamsingh Nagar district and arrested one person. The ashtadhatu idol was seized on Saturday after the police were tipped off that one Mohammed Hanif possessed the idol and was waiting to hand it over to another person at a bus stop in Sitarganj.

Encounter deaths

Mumbai (PTI): Two members of the Hemant Poojari gang were killed in an encounter with police at Sion in central Mumbai. Acting on a tip-off that the two ó Kisan Rathod and Rakesh Sheth ó were planning to kill a hotel owner, the police laid a trap. On spotting them near a college, the police asked them to surrender, but they fired. The police retaliated, injuring them. The duo was later declared brought dead in hospital.

Children charred

Nellore (PTI): Three children were charred to death and five suffered burn injuries when 54 thatched huts were gutted in a fire on Saturday night in Ashoknagar.

Bogie derails

Jalandhar (PTI): One bogie of a Hoshiarpur-bound train derailed at Khuradpur station at 8.30 am on Sunday. No casualty was reported.

Tick

Community kitchens in Uttaranchal will now provide relief to women from their smoky chullahs. Hindustan Petroleum will provide gas connections for kitchens in 100 villages to be run in collaboration with a local NGO.


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