Guwahati, Oct. 8: Age 19, height about 5 feet-5 inches, 55kg in weight, Rajib Das could have a lot in common with a certain Roy Burns Hubley, 20, incarcerated in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia in Canada, in 1947.
That’s in real life. In films, Das could have taken a frame out of Five Man Army, the famous Bud Spencer-starrer spaghetti Western of 1969, or Zorro from the more modern ages. All of them have, cutting across ages and screens, made good their escape or attacks in undercarriages — truck, train or horsewagon.
While Hubley made it out of the Halifax city prison way back then, Das slipped out hanging onto the undercarriage of a truck that had carried supplies to the new, high (at least higher than before) security prison in Lokhra on Guwahati’s outskirts yesterday afternoon.
Not surprisingly, the youngster has left the prison authorities wondering: should inspection mirrors (those ugly things routinely shoved under vehicles to detect bombs and other such incendiary objects) be used on vehicles more on their way in, or way out of Assam’s prisons, that house hardened criminals and militants?
And he did have it all figured out. After escaping from prison at about 1 in the afternoon, Das, who was being tried in a theft case, went straight to his rented home in Fatasil Ambari in the city. By the time the police got there, he had fled the area, taking with him all his belongings. He has since remained untraced.
Jail authorities, though, aren’t willing to confirm the means of escape. “We are not in a position to tell how he managed to escape. I have asked the jail superintendent Madhab Saikia to probe and submit a report to me,” inspector-general (prisons) P.P. Barooah told The Telegraph today.
With Das as the latest addition to the list, Guwahati’s list of no-gooders who have fled the law now stand at seven this year alone. His escape has also brought into focus serious lapses in security measure in the jail, sources said.
“We don’t even have CCTV cameras on our premises to be able to track people,” said an official. “And don’t forget only Guwahati Jail was supposed to get such cameras. Can you imagine the condition of the rest of the 30 jails in the state?” Over and above that, there are 105 jobs of wardens lying vacant in the state, officials said.
“Among the people lodged in Assam’s jail now are hardcore militants of Ulfa, NDFB, DHD, CPI (Maoist) along with criminals who have been booked for various crimes,” a source pointed out.
On June 11, three prisoners belonging to a militant group in Dima Hasao district had escaped after breaking through the tin-roofed Hamren district jail. A murder convict had escaped from Diphu jail in March this year.
As an official said, “Our prisons need a makeover.” Das’s movie preferences, mea-nwhile, aren’t part of his doss-ier with the jail authorities.