Causing embarrassment for the Mumbai Police, a 25-year-old man who was detained late Friday night, sneaked out of the Samata Nagar police station — with two state properties: a chair and a handcuff.
The Samata Nagar police had on Friday detained Siraj Shaikh, a resident of Mira Road, in connection with a kidnapping case. After preliminary interrogation, Shaikh was sent to a room that is generally used as a changing room and handcuffed to a plastic chair to ensure he does not escape. “The officer who was seated on the plastic chair left the room to run an errand. When he returned, he realised that Shaikh and the chair, both were missing,” said an officer. An alarm was soon raised and officers started looking around and within a few minutes realised that Shaikh had actually fled.
When the policemen went through the CCTV footage, their jaws dropped: they saw Shaikh picking up the chair to which he was handcuffed, keep it on his head and walk off rather casually. Soon other police stations were alerted and a manhunt was launched.
Dilip Yadav, senior inspector at Samata Nagar police station, said they had detained Shaikh after catching hold of him after a two-month-long search since an FIR was lodged against him on September 5 for kidnapping a 15-year-old girl. Yadav said that the duo allegedly had an affair, and the girl had moved in with him. However, she is a minor, so charges of kidnapping were lodged. “We questioned him at night and were about to formally arrest him in the morning. Since the Samata Nagar police station does not have a lock up, we kept him in the changing room and handcuffed him to a plastic chair,” said an officer.
The police have now registered a fresh case against him for resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension. “We are on the lookout for him. It is possible that he may have cut the plastic hand rest and fled with the handcuff,” said an officer.
A senior officer, however, maintained that this was a case of sheer negligence and an enquiry has been ordered against the officers who handcuffed him to the plastic chair. Keeping a person in a police station without a formal arrest can amount to illegal detention, and can cause trouble for the officers in charge.
Meanwhile, justifying the reason for keeping him in the changing room, another officer said that though there are eight to ten police stations in the north zone, only Borivli police station has a lock up.
“In cases when we have interrogate accused at night, it becomes risky to send them to Borivli as that would increase the chances of the accused fleeing. Moreover, if we let them go home for the night, they would surely escape. So normally, policemen lock the accused in a room and assign a constable to keep an eye,” he said. “However, handcuffing an accused to a plastic chair is like giving him an invitation to escape,” he added.