10 policemen from the jail escort party of Navi Mumbai police have been suspended, after probe reveals they allowed prisoner awaiting trial to flee from Sir JJ Hospital
Conjugal visits seem to be the police's Achilles' heel. In a glaring lapse reminiscent of the visit of Mustafa Dossa's alleged wife during the gangster's train journey to a court in Gujarat, 10 personnel from the jail escort party of Navi Mumbai police have come under the scanner for facilitating a murder undertrial's 'quality time' with his wife at a south Mumbai hotel.
After allegedly striking a deal, three Navi Mumbai escort team policemen take Hanumant Sadashiv Patil from JJ Hospital to Hotel Brightway at Grant Road. Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
All of the 10 policemen were suspended last evening. While three of them, who allegedly accompanied the murder undertrial - Hanumant Sadashiv Patil alias Prem - to the hotel, were suspended for criminal negligence, the others faced action for failing to report his absence.
At the hotel, the policemen are allegedly handed over their bribe and Patil is allowed to spend time with his wife in the first floor room
Patil gave police the slip on February 11, which the escort team claimed happened after the 28-year-old was taken to JJ Hospital from Taloja jail for a health check-up.
As one policeman stands guard outside the room and the others near the hotel, Patil sees an opportunity and flees from the rear window
But an investigation into the daring escape - Patil's second in months - has nailed the escort team's lie.
It has found that Patil allegedly bribed three escort personnel to allow him to meet his wife at a south Mumbai hotel and after the policemen fell for the ruse, he fled from there. Scared of repercussions, the team then allegedly cooked up the story of him having fled from JJ Hospital.
After realising he had fled, the three policemen cook up a story of how he escaped from JJ Hospital while buying medicines; the wife is arrested on suspicion of aiding his escape
Bribed, then fled
Sources said Patil was guarded by three escort personnel, including Assistant Sub-Inspector Arvind Haadal (49), and after his medical test at JJ Hospital, he offered them Rs 40,000 to be given a chance to meet his wife. The three allegedly agreed and took Patil to Hotel Brightway on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, Grant Road - the venue of the rendezvous.
Patil's wife, Manali, was already in the first floor room of the hotel and the policemen allegedly got their cut there. One escort policeman in plainclothes stood outside the room and the other two went outside the hotel. "Sensing an opportunity to escape, Patil escaped from the rear window of the hotel room," said a senior police official.
The policemen learnt of Patil's escape only after the hotel manager heard a loud thud on the ground floor, where Patil landed after jumping from the window.
To hide their involvement in the escape, they claimed before the JJ Marg police station that Patil gave them slip while buying medicines outside JJ Hospital.
Their lie came undone when investigators from JJ Marg police station set about verifying the claim through CCTV camera feeds. The truth emerged after the three escort team policemen were questioned separately.
The police are now investigating if the escort team policemen had made prior arrangements for Patil's hotel visit. Sources said that one of the escort personnel had made a phone call to Manali a day prior to the escape to tell her that he and others had been deputed to escort Patil from and to jail.
Sudhakar Pathhare, Navi Mumbai deputy commissioner of police, said all 10 escort team policemen had been suspended as Patil's custody was their joint responsibility. "We sent an officer for investigation and he found serious negligence on the part of the escort team. How could the escort guards allow an inmate to go buy medicines from outside the hospital without the court's permission? This is serious negligence."
The other seven policemen, too, are under the scanner since none informed the local police, the Navi Mumbai police or the control room of Patil's absence for three hours.
Manoj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (zone 1), said all angles, including the escort guards' criminal negligence, are being probed. "A report will soon be sent to the commissioner of police, Navi Mumbai."
Patil was arrested in 2013 for the kidnap and murder of a CIDCO employee over a land dispute. He had been lodged in Taloj jail for the last 18 months, and had complained of haemorrhoids in the days prior to his escape. He was, therefore, taken for a check-up to JJ Hospital. Patil, who also faces MCOCA charges, had escaped a few months ago from Vashi civic hospital.
Manali has been arrested on the suspicion that she aided Patil’s escape, and booked sections 225 (resistance or obstruction to lawful apprehension of another person) and 224 (resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. She is in police custody.