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Great escape from city court

A prisoner being taken away from the Ranchi civil courts on Tuesday. (Hardeep Singh)

Ranchi, June 16: The top gun of an interstate gang who masterminded a high-profile abduction last year escaped from Ranchi civil courts this morning in a stern reminder of lax security at judicial establishments a fortnight after a fatal AK-47 assault in Hazaribagh.

An escort cop and the in-charge of the Ranchi court lock-up have been suspended over the great escape.

Vinod Bihari Singh, a resident of Palamau, had been arrested from Sukhdeonagar area of the capital on December 22 - along with gang kingpin Kunal Singh - for kidnapping Nilay Engineering Institute chairman Bheem Singh Munda on August 4 last year.

Vinod had been lodged at Birsa Munda Central Jail in Hotwar since. Around 8.30am today, havildar Valmiki Singh escorted him to the civil courts for a hearing in front of the chief judicial magistrate.

According to what Valmiki told Kotwali police during interrogation, he was completing mandatory paperwork before the hearing when, in full filmi style, Vinod furtively freed his hands from the cuffs, scaled a boundary wall and sped off on a bike that was apparently waiting for him outside.

City SP Jaya Roy said the havildar and hazat-in-charge Surendra Singh had been suspended for dereliction of duty. "They will face a probe. We will net the fugitive soon," she said.

However, Kotwali thana OC Vijay Kumar Singh maintained that they were yet to make a headway in the case.

On August 4, 2014, a seven-member Jharkhand-Bihar gang had whisked away 62-year-old educationist Munda at gunpoint from Burmu, 22km from the capital. After a massive hunt, the engineering college boss was rescued from Rohtas in Bihar on August 12. However, it had taken police months to track down the elusive mastermind of the abduction.

Today's great escape will once again turn the spotlight on porous courts. On June 2, a Ramgarh gangster had been gunned down with AK-47 rifles in front of a few dozen policemen at Hazaribagh civil court. The shootout had spurred marathon security reviews at the Ranchi courts too.

An officer at Kotwali thana said 24 armed jawans were on daily court vigil. "After the Hazabarigh shooting, doorframe metal detectors and CCTV cameras were planned. Survey to install the systems is, currently, underway," he added.

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