With barely 36 days to go for retirement, the chief warder of Dum Dum Central jail had wanted to make a killing. But with 72 hours to go for him to hang up his belt, Ramji Singh finds himself staring down the barrel.
Nearly 24 hours after his arrest, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been able to “clearly establish a direct link” between the five convicts who escaped from the high-security prison on September 25 and chief warder Singh, who was to retire on October 31.
Deputy inspector-general (CID) Raj Kanojia on Wednesday confirmed Singh’s “complicity in the entire conspiracy” and that he was aware of Sheikh Binod’s plans of escaping with four other convicts, including Baitha Kima, arrested at the rented premises of former CBI joint director Upen Biswas.
In the course of investigation, the CID learnt that Singh had played a key role in the entire operation by roping in a few other jail staff to ensure that all undertrials that afternoon were either busy at their chores or at the grand function, where over 30 convicts were set free.
“We interrogated him (Singh) through the day and have obtained vital leads, which we are working on. There is no doubt that Singh was a key player in the entire plot and, therefore, his arrest has a significant bearing in the case,” added Kanojia.
Singh was roped into the getaway plot by Binod, through ex-convict-turned-plumber Chaitanya Pal. Although the CID is not sure about the exact amount promised or paid to Singh, Pal had suggested to Singh that he could be richer by “a few lakh rupees” if he played along.
In return, Singh bought a mobile phone and handed it over to Pal just before the jailbreak.
Pal’s confessions have confirmed that Kima has not fled the country yet, as the Myanmarese druglord is yet to make the promised payments to Binod. The CID is now tracing all numbers called from and received on Pal’s cellphone.
Singh, meanwhile, was suspended from service on Wednesday and all his retirement benefits frozen by the jails and social welfare department.
The department has also begun a probe to find out the role of three other warders who were suspended immediately after the getaway.
“If we find any link between Singh and the three warders, we will take immediate action against them,” a senior jail official said.
On September 25, amidst blinding rain, Sheikh Binod and his associates fled after climbing a ladder placed by Chaitanya Pal against the south-eastern wall of the jail. While it was initially believed that only Pal knew about the ladder, the CID now suspects that Singh, too, was aware about the getaway tool.