Thirty-three days after the Dum Dum jailbreak, officers of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the CID swooped down on a hideout in North 24-Parganas around noon on Tuesday and rounded up the mastermind.
The capture of Chaitanya Pal, ex-convict-turned-plumber, who had helped Sheikh Binod and four others slip out of Dum Dum Central jail, sparked a chain reaction, culminating in the arrest of the jail’s chief warder later on Tuesday.
In the afternoon on September 25, amidst blinding rain, Binod and four other convicts (including Baitha Kima, arrested in connection with the international drug racket bust at the Salt Lake residence of former CBI joint director Upen Biswas) escaped after scaling the wall on the south-eastern end of the jail.
The five convicts had first headed for a secluded spot near the jailer’s bungalow, before using a 14-ft ladder resting against the prison wall to effect their escape. Pal confessed on Tuesday that he, too, had used the ladder to leave the prison, and not walked out of the main gate, as was initially believed.
It did not take long for the jail authorities to figure out that Pal had played a key role in the escape, with help from the inside. Three warders were suspended and the jail superintendent showcaused before the case was handed over to the CID.
Two days ago, the CID received a vital tip-off — Pal had been spotted at a relative’s place in a place called Guma, in North-24-Parganas. On Tuesday, a 15-member SOG team spread out in Guma and around 12.40 pm, Pal was sighted on a rickshaw-van near the Guma crossing on Jessore Road.
A photograph taken from Nimta police station, where Pal had been booked in a murder case, helped sleuths identify him. “Pal was immediately overpowered and taken into custody,” said deputy inspector-general (CID) Raj Kanojia. Pal was then whisked into a waiting car and interrogated.
With Pal spilling the beans, the CID started rounding up other suspects. Around 1.30 pm, the chief warder of Dum Dum jail, Ramji Singh, was picked up and brought to Bhabani Bhavan for interrogation. He is alleged to have bought Pal a cellphone, a day before the jailbreak. Inspector-general (prisons) Jaydeb Chakraborty confirmed later in the evening that Singh had been arrested.
Next to be detained was a suspended Group-D staff member of the income-tax department, whom Pal allegedly introduced to Binod in jail. He is said to have sheltered Binod and gang in his Salt Lake house immediately after their escape. Before the day was done, sleuths had arrested Deepak Guin, identified as the man whose car had been used in the getaway. Guin allegedly drove the fugitives to Salt Lake, where they were holed up before dispersing to various destinations.
A senior CID official said the entire jailbreak deal struck between Binod, Baitha Kima and the conspirators involved no less than Rs 10 lakh.