Krishnagar, April 15: Braving a bullet wound on his hip, Cheema Sardar, the alleged leader of the bandit gang that looted and raped passengers of two buses returning from wedding receptions in Dhantola on February 6, made a futile bid to escape from a hospital here early today.
Cheema had earlier fled from the custody of the CID officers interrogating him at the office of the district detective inspector on March 19 though his hands were cuffed and a rope was tied to his waist. The police picked up the bandit again after an encounter in Machhlandapur, North 24-Parganas. He had suffered the gunshot wound in that April 1 encounter.
Around 1 am today, the sentries outside the ground-floor room in the Shaktigarh State General Hospital, where Cheema and another prisoner were admitted, heard something that sounded as if someone was trying to break the wall. “When they tried to locate the source of the noise, the sentries saw Cheema in bed, wrapped head to toe in a blanket,” said deputy superintendent of police Amitava Barma.
But the sentries made out that the sleeping figure was nothing but bundles of clothes and a heavy blanket rolled up. “The constables followed the noise and located Cheema in the latrine adjacent to the room. He was trying to break through the ventilator with the help of a saline bottle stand,” said Barma.
The other prisoner in the room was too afraid to raise an alarm. “He told us he was woken up when Cheema began putting in place his escape bid, but we are still in the dark about how he got rid of his manacles and the chain that shackled one of his feet with the iron bed,” said Barma.
Even the hospital authorities were surprised at how a person with a bullet still stuck in his hip could dare such an attempt at escape.
“We were in the process of scheduling a date for surgery to remove the bullet lodged in his hip joint. A person with such an injury should be in pain every time he tried to move. It is a mystery how this man could stand up in his condition,” said Mohan Basu, the deputy medical officer of health, Nadia.
The escape bid prompted the police to post extra constables around the prisoners’ room and two guards have been posted exclusively to keep an eye on Cheema.