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Maoist escapes from Ghatshila court

Jamshedpur, March 4: A hardcore Naxalite and another undertrial of Ghatshila Subdivisional Jail escaped while being transferred into a prisoners’ van at Ghatshila court, about 50km from Jamshedpur yesterday, exposing severe lapses in handling of prisoners by police during court appearances.

Another prisoner had tried to escape with Fogra Munda (30) — a key member of the CPI(Maoist)’s Kanhum Munda squad — and Hopen Baske, but was nabbed by police from the court premises.

The incident prompted East Singhbhum senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amol V. Homkar to suspend an assistant sub-inspector and 10 constables for dereliction of duty.

The SSP and SP (rural) Shailendra Kumar Srivastava also visited the Ghatshila court last night and this morning as well to take stock of the mistakes the police might have made while ferrying the undertrials.

Srivastava said that Fogra — who is facing eight cases, seven of which are murder — and 41 other undertrials were brought from Ghatshila Subdivisional Jail to the court for production before judges last afternoon.

“By 4.30pm, all the undertrials had been brought back to the court hazaat for being taken back to jail. Ten policemen and an assistant sub-inspector kept watch as the 41 started getting into the prison van. But suddenly, one of the prisoners slipped and fell from the van, diverting the attention of the policemen on duty. Seeking the opportunity, Fogra and two other undertrials fled,” Srivastava said.

Soon after police realised that three undertrials were missing, they mounted a search and caught murder accused Shilai Karma (32).

“But Fogra and Hopen Baske (35), who has also been charged with murder, could not be found. Fogra is a hardcore Naxalite hailing from Shyamsunderpur in Ghatshila. We are trying to hind out his whereabouts,” the SP (rural) added.

Fogra, who was actively involved in Naxalite-sponsored activities since 2000 and had committed seven murders, was arrested in May 2012. “He used to target and kill those who acted as police informer in the Naxalite-hit region of Ghatshila,” said a police officer of the area.

According to sources, though a manhunt had been started to track down the Maoist, police are facing hurdles in carrying out an extensive search operation as all the officers of Ghatshila sub-division are new.

“The officers-in-charge of all nine police stations in Ghatshila and adjoining Potka block are not well-versed with the interiors of Ghatshila. Even the sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors are new here, thanks to the mass transfer in view of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

“In the absence of thorough knowledge about the remote rural areas, police have to rely on local villagers. Hence, the search operation is not proving to be effective,” he added.