Siliguri, Aug. 23: The failing signal on the cellphone of a constable paved the way for the escape of Nickole Tamang from Pintail Village yesterday morning.
The policeman and his colleague were in charge of guarding the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha central committee member, the prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder. According to the CID that took him into custody, a little before 6.30am yesterday, Nickole informed the constable guarding him in a Pintail cottage that he wanted to use the washroom. At that moment, Arabinda Kumbhakar who was with Tamang — the other guard having stepped out for tea — received a call on his cell. The signal being weak, Kumbhakar stepped out of the room and walked towards where the reception was clearer.
When Nickole opened the washroom door and found the constable away, he slipped out. Police records show that Kumbhakar was away from his post in Nickole’s room from 6.32am to 6.40am, providing him with eight vital minutes to make his getaway. “Nickole cleverly guessed from the fading voice of the constable talking on his cell that he was moving away from the room. He took the chance,” an officer said.
Nickole had other factors working in his favour too. Very few people were around because of the incessant rain and only a handful knew that a murder accused in police remand had been kept in Pintail overnight. Moreover, the CID had sent away an escort team provided by Darjeeling police to guard him.
“Nickole Tamang did not break any windows or squeeze out of the skylight,” P. Nirajnayan, IG, CID, told The Telegraph. “He walked out of the room on finding no guards around. It was a serious lapse on the part of the policemen.”
Nickole possibly went out of the back door of the cottage as it is closer to the two walls, the inner and the outer, and then scaled them. If adept, it is possible to complete such an operation in eight to 10 minutes.
“Nickole knows Pintail like the back of his hand,” an officer said. “He would know the quickest way out.”
The police said around the time Nickole escaped, a few people saw a man in a vest and a pair of shorts — the clothes the suspect was wearing when he escaped — walking towards Panchnoibusty, a kilometre from Pintail and known to be a Morcha stronghold.
At Writers’ Buildings state home secretary Samar Ghosh said today: “We are trying to re-arrest Nickole Tamang. The borders are being closely monitored to prevent escape…If it was a case of security lapse, then the why and how of it must be brought to light. If he was assisted in his escape, then that would also be revealed in the probe.”