bha (Punjab), Nov 27: Punjab and Harya were put on high alert after armed men attacked the maximum security bha jail in Punjab on Sunday and escaped with two terrorists, including Khalistan Liberation Force’s Harminder Singh Mintoo and four gangsters, police said. In a related development, a woman was killed as police fired at a vehicle on the Patiala-Cheeka road which did not stop at a barricade set up to catch the escaped prisoners. Police sources said it was a case of mistaken identity.
The police and security agencies launched a manhunt to b the prisoners. A security lockdown was ordered along Punjab’s border with neighbouring Harya and Rajasthan and along the border with Pakistan.
The Punjab government announced a reward of Rs 25 lakh to anyone giving information leading to the arrest of the six prisoners.
The attackers, dressed in police uniform, breached the tight security of the prison around 9 a.m. and fired at least 100 rounds during a well-planned and executed attack that lasted barely 10 minutes, jail officials said.
Despite several rounds of firing, no one was injured. Official sources said the security in the jail did not retaliate, raising suspicion. Jail officials told police that the attackers entered the prison premises by telling the outer security they had brought a prisoner for verification. Their vehicles were allowed entry.
Mintoo, arrested in 2014 and with 10 cases against him, and another terrorist, Kashmir Singh Galwadi, were among those who escaped from the jail.
Mintoo had been to Pakistan a few times and had reportedly got training from the Inter-Services Intelligence. Gangsters Vicky Gonder, Gurpreet Sekhon, Neeta Deol and Vikramjit also fled. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Home Minister, and Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora reached the bha jail.
The Punjab government suspended the Additiol DGP-Jails. The bha Jail Superintendent and his deputy were dismissed from service, Badal said.
The attackers, about 10-12 in number, entered the jail premises in two cars, including an SUV, breaching the three-tier security ring without much effort. A self-loading rifle of the jail security was stched by the attackers. Security agencies cordoned off the area and launched a massive search to b the escaped prisoners.
The attack took place when the prisoners were brought out of their barracks for breakfast and other morning chores, the jail sources said.
Witnesses heard several rounds of firing around 9 a.m. “I was going on my motorcycle when I saw 2-3 cars with armed men inside. They were firing in the air and were in police uniform,” a villager told reporters near the jail.
Sukhbir Badal spoke to tiol Security Advisor Ajit Doval and updated him on the steps taken to apprehend the prisoners and attackers.
The Punjab government ordered a probe by Additiol Chief Secretary (Home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu to look into the lapses that led to the jailbreak. ADGP (Railways) Rohit Chaudhary was posted as new ADGP (Jails) in place of M.K. Tiwari, who has been suspended. Police formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident. (IANS)