18-foot tunnel at Ahmedabad prison exposes escape plan

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 14:38 hrs

Ahmedabad: A daring jailbreak planned by Ahmedabad serial blasts case undertrials at the Sabarmati Central Jail was thwarted by prison officials who uncovered a 18-feet long tunnel dug in the barrack where some of them were lodged.

As the plot for the great escape from barrack No 4 named 'Chhota Chakkar' stunned jail authorities, an FIR has been lodged against 14 of the serial blasts accused and a probe is underway. The tunnel was discovered late last night.

"We have found a tunnel dug in the barrack where 14 of the serial bomb blasts accused are lodged. We have registered an FIR and investigation is on," Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail V M Parghi said today.

Sources said that Usman Agarbatti, a civil engineer and one of the 14 accused put up in the barrack, is allegedly the mastermind behind the plan, sources said.

The sources said the tunnel was being dug with such finesse that the plan was to link it with an underground sewer line that passed beneath the main gate of the jail premises.

The probe has been handed over to the Crime Branch of the Ahmedabad police.

Late on Sunday night, when jail authorities suspected something amiss in the behaviour of two inmates at barrack number four, they searched it and found the tunnel dug from inside the barrack, police said.

"Out of 68 accused of the serial bomb blasts case, 14 were lodged in this barrack and we have started probe on since how long digging work was on, how they were digging it and who else are involved," said Parghi without divulging any further details. A Crime Branch officer suspected the digging may have been going on for the past two to three months.

The state Home Ministry has ordered an enquiry into the incident following a high-level meeting held this morning by Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel.

Pargi said they have not found any tools but it seems the accused were using dinner plates and wood to dig the tunnel.

"They had volunteered for the gardening work around the barrack and under that cover they were dumping the sand extracted from the tunnel into the garden outside," said Jail IG P C Thakur.

On July 26, 2008, twenty near simultaneous bomb blasts across the city had killed 57 people. All the blast accused are lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail as trial has been ordered to be conducted in the premises because of security reasons.

According to authorities, the tunnel was being dug from the past five-six months for the purpose of escape.

Thakur said that three of the accused have confessed about the plan and investigations are in progress to probe the matter.

"Police investigation has started and various issues would be enquired in this. These accused belong to different places and were accused in serial bomb blast. Apex court has given them stay and they have been here in this prison for the past five years. Session judge Kalpana Yagnik's trial has started for the first time here," said Thakur.

Two of the three accused are engineers and the third one has passes Bachelor's of technology (B-tech).

On July 26, 2008, fifty-seven people were killed when 20 simultaneous bomb blasts rocked different parts of Ahmedabad city.

All the accused were lodged in the Sabarmati Central Jail and trial was ordered to be conducted in the premises due to security reasons.

More from Sify: