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Prisoner escapes from hospital cell

Raiganj, Oct. 22: An under-trial, who was being treated in a cell on the third floor of the North Dinajpur district hospital here, escaped in the early hours today by removing a defunct exhaust fan in the bathroom and shinnying down a drainpipe.

Alim Sheikh had been arrested by South Dinajpur police on October 14 and charged with murder and rioting in connection with the formation of a village council near Harirampur.

He was admitted to the Raiganj hospital, which is nearer to Harirampur than the South Dinajpur district hospital in Balurghat.

Alim, accused of murdering a Citu activist in Nardas, was injured at the time of his arrest.

Hospital sources said there was only one prisoner in the cell.

North Dinajpur police superintendent Sankar Singha said the prisoner had escaped despite two constables being present on duty outside the cell. “I visited the hospital this morning and an probe has been launched into the role of the policemen.”

Sources said the policemen had seen Alim enter the bathroom around 3.30am. As he did not come out even after 30 minutes, they opened the cell and found that he had escaped.

However, the police administration is yet to decide on any action against the guilty constables, Singha said.

“There are a lot of loopholes in the security system of the hospital lock-up. The exhaust fan mounted on the bathroom wall has not been functioning for months and the frame of the fan had corroded. It was easy for the prisoner to remove it and exit through the one-and-a-half-foot opening,” he said.

The police chief has instructed the hospital authorities to seal the opening and to replace window bars which had also become weak.

Singha said in future, one of the two constables on duty would stay inside the lock-up, while the other would be armed and stand outside.

The photographs of Alim have been sent to nearby police stations even as a manhunt has been launched to catch him.

Chief medical officer of health of North Dinajpur S.S. Sahoo said he was going to implement the police superintendent’s recommendations.

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