A murder convict and two undertrial prisoners escaped from Alipore jail early on Friday by cutting through iron rods in their cell door with “smuggled” hacksaw blades and scaling a 20ft wall opposite a faulty surveillance camera.
The audacious jailbreak, which exposed the lack of security at the central prison, involved five prisoners in cell No. 8 of block 14 and at least a week of meticulous planning.
An officer said a rod — around 1.5-inch thick, at least 8ft long and made of iron — on the cell door was missing for the past four days but none of the jail guards noticed it.
Kutubuddin Laskar, Samim Hawladar and Azim Mistry managed to scale the wall but Sadiq Laskar and Bhola Gupta had to abort their escape and go back to their cell after a guard manning a watchtower outside the jail heard a heavy thud and raised the alarm.
“The third one to climb the wall fell heavily on the other side with a loud thud, alerting policemen on watchtower No. 7. A guard blew the whistle when he saw the prisoner on the ground outside the jail wall. The fourth and fifth prisoners were inside the jail premises and they ran to their cell after hearing the whistle. They pretended to be asleep when a search was conducted,” said an officer of Alipore police station. The two who couldn’t escape cracked during interrogation and recounted the jailbreak, he added.
Mistry was serving a life sentence, convicted in 2012, for a murder in Baruipur while undertrials Laskar and Hawladar were in prison undergoing trial for robberies.
“The five men had managed to get hold of hacksaw blades and had slowly cut two iron rods of their cell door over the past five days. They took out one of the bars, bent it into the shape of a hook using tools from a workshop near their cell. They tied the hook to one end of the second rod using their clothes,” said an officer.
He said the five men started dislodging the second rod on the door after they went back to their cell following the routine roll call for prisoners at 6pm on Thursday. They had attached a lungi and a gamchha to the other end of the elongated rod and used the escape tool to climb up the main wall and get down on the other side — one by one. “But the third prisoner fell on the road outside, alerting guards at the watchtower. One of them blew the whistle,” said the officer.
The prisoner who fell ran towards Judges Court Road and probably fled through Rakhal Das Auddy Road, the narrow stretch opposite to the jail leading to Chetla.
The officer said the men fled in their underwear.
The jailbreak put the lens on security, or the lack of it, at the jail. “Why wasn’t the CCTV camera working? How did the prisoners get hold of hacksaw blades? Why didn’t jail guards notice the missing road on the cell door for five days? Why was there no monitoring at the workshop where a rod was turned into a hook? Why didn’t guards at the watchtower, hardly 60ft away, notice the first prisoner climbing down the wall?” asked an officer.
Jail superintendent Chittaranjan Gharai and warders Uttam Konar and Tanmay Karmakar were suspended. Karmakar was on patrol duty between walls 7 and 11, the one that the prisoners climbed on Thursday night.